We - Nadia, Moyo and baby Tapiwa - traveled to Zimbabwe and back with the support of the Schools Without Borders Aeroplan Miles Program ( Via Beyond Miles) this year (January-April 2016). We were very grateful for the Miles and time we had to work with, although when building a village from the ground up, it is never enough ! We have just returned and are already reminiscing and marveling at the amount of work - difficult and joyful, tangible and abstract, practical and emotional, interpersonal and personal, that came together during our three-month stay at our Ubuntu Learning Village.
The Aeroplan Miles we were fortunate and grateful to have received from the SWB enabled us to travel to rural Zimbabwe this year, where we stayed for 3 months building a learning village founded upon the dreams and values of ourselves and a group of 15+ locals who make up the community at current.
We began holding regular meetings as a collective, and exchanged facilitation skills and techniques so that everyone could participate fully in meetings, have the skills and capacity to host meetings, and curate conditions for collective decision making. We collectively composed a set of village principles and values, which we translated into vivid murals on the walls of the existing homes.
We contributed to the building (by residents) of two new eco-homes in the village, made of clay bricks and grass-thatched roofs. We built a filter-sink to bring grey dish water directly to water the herb garden. We brought friends from Kufunda Learning Village to assemble solar panels on the homes to provide electricity for lights and power-tools. We dug two new composting toilets, and planted avocado trees over the old ones. We fortified food production on the land by planting an herb and vegetable garden and fruit trees, by building bee hives, and by increasing our herd of cows from 10 to 17 (including milk-giving females) and our chickens from 25 to 65 (including 40 egg-layer hens).
We co-created an operational structure with the Ubuntu residents where each take a role of responsibility over a different component of village life, from farming to animal care to maintenance of infrastructure to food preparation, etc. We purchased the inputs necessary for each resident to pursue their own income-generating project or hobby, from photography, to barbering/hair styling, to small product sales. We initiated one resident's training in Early Childhood Development, with hopes that we can open a much-needed preschool based on a specialized Ubuntu curriculum for the neighboring community on-site. And we hosted several conversations between residents and neighbours to engender understanding and good relationships. Our presence on the ground was critical in seeing all of this through, and that was made possible by having SWB's support.
Nadia Y Saad and Moyo Rainos Mutamba