Field Trip: Lirhanzo Children’s Village Zimbabwe, 2015
Flew down to a wet and drizzly Sydney. Steve and Leanne picked Bill and I and our gear up, (including the rest of the Hamilton Island Uniforms) and we lugged cases and uniforms to the Meriton Serviced Apartments in Zetland.
Sorted the uniforms into each other’s cases and had dinner and a well earned wine close by.
Craig picked us up next morning and we caught up as he drove us to the International terminal.
We were given short demo on the flip video camera that he and Andrew donated? and we checked in with only a short time to spare as Pammie was vaguely under the impression that we were flying one hour later!
Relief from the rest of the field trippers as we found each other on the aircraft after take-off, especially from Laura and Ally, who were a little concerned I might have sent them off to Johannesburg without us!
Pleasant flight, without drama and watched “Still Alice”, “American Sniper” and “Paper Planes” between the frequent serving of drinks and very passable economy class airline food.
Arrived on time at 16:00 and customs and passport checks were uneventful.
Collected our massive amounts of luggage and found our way, after a hiccough – Pam decided that the Hotel base could be found in the Airport basement, to the motel bus terminal.
Peermont Metcourt Suites unchanged and the fantastic staff quickly sorted our room problem as we had only booked for 6 and now we were 7.
An extra bed was found (for no extra charge) for Amanda who had decided to come only weeks earlier.
Those who were still able to function after a 14 hour flight, wandered over to the Casino complex and a wonderful dinner was had with Martie and Victor who now live and work in Johannesburg.
This wonderful couple used to live and work on the farm but due to the ever challenging liquidity problems moved to South Africa to ensure their son “Little Victor” was funded for Uni.
Fantastic night and lots of laughs and caught up on much of the gossip as they are regularly in contact with all at Edenvale. Martie and Victor took most of the summer clothing off our hands.
The gang all slept but it did take a few days to get over the jet lag as our bodies were still responding to Aussie time.
Spent the next morning carefully dividing and weighing all the Hamilton Island Primary School fleeces and taking all labels off and taking themout of their plastic bags, donated after the school changed from green to blue and hid them discreetly between our own clothing.
Looked skywards and prayed that we would not be picked up going through customs in Bulawayo as the penalty for bringing new clothing into Zimbabwe is severe.
We headed back to the airport after a hearty and delicious breakfast where Bill took the opportunity to eat roll mops and smoked cod as his English Genes became visible again.
Had a coffee and a wander around the Airport then with time to spare compared to previous flight, made our way to the Bulawayo Gate.
Uneventful SAA flight and all the group were requested to look to the heavens in a last ditch effort to get everything in to the country.
The new airport is a far cry from the tin shed used as an arrival lounge in 2012 and the staff were pleasant.
Bill was asked what the large piece of metal equipment was in his case and after explaining it was for press studding re-usable feminine hygiene pads we were waved through VERY quickly.
Don’t know who was the most embarrassed, Bill or the customs officer (:
Allison was there to meet us, looking sensational. Her Sadza and relish diet is definitely suiting her and the kgs had melted off her.
She had met a guy called Ivan at our guest house on the previous night and he very kindly came to help get us and our gear ALL back to the Travellers Guest House, our home for the next two nights.
Ezelle had not yet arrived after crossing the border at Beitbridge just that morning, however, as we were checking in to our oasis she walked in and hugged me!
Ezelle turned 50 only weeks ago and she still looks like a girl.
So wonderful to see her again and introduce her to Bill, Ally, Leanne, Laura, Amanda and Anne.
We had dinner in the resteraunt next door, new since my last visit
Breakfast, pack and off.
Allison driving with Amanda, Anne and Laura
Ezelle Bill, Pam Leanne and Ally
Refueled in Bulawayo and south of L&E
Bought our evening drinks in Beitbridge
Farm about 5 to 5
Settled into our very different environment
Christo’s Birthday Party in Larpa. Beautiful Brai BBQ Rump steak and Birthday cake.
May 7th FRi
Reconnaissance day. Went to Chagomoka School. Incredible to see new building.
Kids shyly sung and danced and met the teachers.
Drive to LCV and finally the gang can see our children firstly at the school and then at the orphanage.
Missed Zipporah until pointed out and front row, quietly looking up in anticipation of me recognizing her again. Big grins all round when I do!
Meet the Guardian Mothers again – lovely reunion.
Kids shy but excited in anticipation of ——
Presents given to Zipporah from Whine Club girl, Simon, my own child, Musa and Chipo D from their sponsors Tanya Curtain and Janine Hall.
We were served Sadza and relish for lunch and after washing our hands we used our fingers and ate African style.
Kids slowly relaxed and as it was Fri they didn’t have to go back to School. As kids didn’t have to go to school
Drive into town after lunch and visit hospital, meet DR. White, see Sr. Hlongwane and take the tour.
Watch the shattered looks on the field trippers faces as they become aware of the devastating conditions that the people have to deal with.
The hospital still has no running water and central pharmacy supplies are almost nil.
We had bought disposable gloves in Bulawayo (some 12 boxes) because we heard they had run out and that was their greatest need.
Laura still not well and looking forward to having proper consultation with Dr. White in at the hospital. Leave at 9:30 for LCV after breakfast in the larpa with the two South African ladies.
Girls help load up all the ACE files and filing cabinets that have been stored at the farm due to lack of storage space at the school and the 7 of us, Ezelle and the two of them head off.
Ezelle comes and gets Ally Laura, Leanne and I and we drive to Chikombedzi to see Dr and meet with Crispen, Margret’s husband who is acting Dep Principal of the Alpha Mpapa High School. Chipo catches a lift.
Laura goes with Ezelle to get an outpatients card and we wait in the darkened corridor with many other colourfully dressed patients waiting to see the doctors.
After her consultation we are taken over to pharmacy, script in hand but Laura has to return to Admin to pay her $5US before they dispense the tablets necessary to hopefully make her well again.
Tablets are dispensed, not in boxes but on small card of 4 and 5.
We drive to the high school which is close by and Crispen is there to meet us, looking incredibly smart in his pink shirt, dark tie and Fawn suit jacket.
We head into his office and Leanne who has been a little frustrated up until now is finally in her element explaining her project and showing the components of the “feminine hygiene bag” to Crispen.
He tells her that of the 10 machines we thought would be available there are only 6 now that are in working order, however, when we get to the class room used for sewing and meet the teacher, she explains there are now only 5 that are working.
We tuck it away for later discussion how we can fix this problem and later when we do it is discussed that there is a man in Chikombedzi who can fix singer treadle machines, but Margret explains that he died a few years ago. Chiredzi or SA.
Bonus, Tiyesilani and Kulani are in that classroom and their faces light up when Ezelle explains we are from AFADU who sponsor their schooling.
Absolutely beautiful girls who are academically very smart and thriving in their school environment which depends entirely on AFADU funding.
I am able to take a few pics of them but will take more when the project starts on Thur as Crispen has given Leanne TUE and THUR afternoons from 2 to 4.
We leave Leanne to plan with the very enthusiastic teacher who is thrilled when she sees the kit. Leanne is thrilled when she sees that the lesson of the day has been about the difference of polyester and cotton which was the first thing she thought she needed to teach the class.
Ezelle, Laura, Ally and I drive to where Ellen is living with her new baby, Alexander.
Julie, Margret and Jeneta’s half sister is helping to supervise the looking after of the baby along with the full time care of Sebastian and Sylvester, Jeneta’s twins and Vickie and Success her older boys. (Jimmy died of Malaria)
It was wonderful to see Julie again who used to work at the farm and help in the kitchen. She is excited to see me and I her.
She is a pretty woman invites me into her house which was built by Jenita and Jimmy before he passed away.
It is neat and tidy and has a dresser with all the plates and cups on it and a small table and chairs with a healthy pot plant sitting on it.
The small bedroom where the 6 of them sleep, Julies daughter one of them, is devoid of beds but blankets are piled neatly in the corner. Cooking is done outside and a very smart brick latrine is close by.
I take photos of the twins as they are now on our program since Jimmy passed away as well as of Ellen who has grown into a beauty, her baby and Jeneta’s boys.
They are all coming to the farm this weekend so I will no doubt take many more!
We start to head back to the town and I spy a bright flashing smile on the back of a donkey cart. Faniso!
He yells out Gogo, grandmother and races over to give me a hug.
Not long before he is showing me his brand new watch and MP3 player. He quickly decides that coming back to LCV for the weekend is going to be fun so plans a lift.
I decide that he needs some employment so rope him in to help Bill and I paint the 2 houses at LCV.
He will also dance for Anne and Amanda as they are looking for the best dancers for a small video clip which they will edit for our new web site.
I can’t wait to see him dance again. He is sensational.
Faniso’s history: Ezelle explains his issues after he told me once he wanted to be a pilot.
I take a couple of pics for his sponsor Marg.
We pick up Leanne and the girls and head back, passing Tatenda on hos way back to school.
He looks well and very handsome. I take a pic and hope that his twin Takura will be around.
Bill up early and travels to LCV with Anne and Lisa from the Evangelical Rural Mission of Zimbabwe.
They have been supporting Ezelle with her ACE schooling program and are South African ladies who have been staying at Edenvale for the last 3 days.
Over breakfast next day Anne mentions that when they were in Gweru they visited the mother of a friend in and Aged Care Facility and I tell her I also have a friend from my Art Class in the Whitsundays who has a Mum in a Home in Gweru.
She looks at me in astonishment and tells me she has known Barbara for many years and she and her husband and her sister and Barbara were all close.
It is a very small world!
Painting, I feel is slow but Bill has it organized. He doesn’t want to do a slap hazard job and wants to do it well. Spots of paint are immediately cleaned before he has a chance to cast “that look” at me.
The women continue to extend on their new craft skills and other women float in to learn and share the new ideas.
Painting day at LCV. Finally seeing results.
One bedroom finished and looks beautiful. The guardian mothers and Ezelle agree.
Faniso paints with us all day. Faniso, Gogo and Bill —– Good team. He enjoys working with us and is doing an excellent job.
Puppet show today not yesterday.
At lunch time we say goodbye to Lisa and Anne who have held a puppet show, “the 3 little pigs” to the school children.
They sit there confused as they were unable to hear and although they were politely attentive they didn’t really know what was going in.
Bead making and Estina continued with her wall piece. Earings (coiled basket making) made into earings and look fabulous.
Ally and Laura continue with their admin at the farm much to Ezelles delight!
Leanne has her first class. 8 girls and machines reduced to 1 because they had been taken away to make curtains. Leanne philosophical as she has realized that if she can pass the skill onto the teacher her job has been done!
Ally and Laura wander down to the river and bring back some gorgeous specimens. Christo explains the area is laden with minerals!
Pork chops for tea – Amanda has chicken schnitzel al la vegetarian!
Have breakfast. Try and write up my notes. Check emails and leave around 09:50AM – about 20 minutes later than planned and probably about 3 hours later than Bill had planned.
Faniso piles into the back as we have a full load of 5. Laura and Ally are archiving again and in the afternoon, Laura trims Ezelle’s hair.
A new project is planned by Anne and Amanda and the Guardian Mothers, and they start making their “door screen” out of bottle caps, straws and the remains of a barrel full of monkeys.
I look on dubiously until I see the result late in the afternoon.
And as the girls are now starting to say Awesome in an Aussie accent along with the odd Kath and Kim saying, there is great hilarity through the afternoon.
Bill and Faniso continue to paint in Mbua Ezelle and I am made redundant about 11:30.
I wander down to talk to Margret in her office and ask her if she has time to talk to me.
She puts aside a report that she says she can do later and we talk for an hour and a half about the children and what they are up to.
We get through to the children with names starting with M and spend time talking about how each Guardian mother is doing such a great job.
Bill talks with Christwhich – did you end up in an orphanage= no ended up in Australia
Trip to Chiredzi, Phiona Adonia mother
HWS plumber, Mo for Wendy, grocery shopping, shoes, paint and brushes, trip home pick up Mum kids, grand child, 2 goats, 4 chooks and 5 chickens
Dinner in D room – Sweet and sour pork.
Agrippa and group
Story of Makops funeral
Bill in to LCV early with to finish painting. Agrippa and crew. plus Faniso. Agrippa talks to Bill non stop Bill tells him he should be a preacher,
Give Faniso his
We get there at 9:45 for show.
Anne and Amanda show beautiful earrings at B’fast. Girls are blown away —- made of guinea Fowl feathers!
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