Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Zimbabwe: Mission Accomplished

From Zimbabwe 2010 Photo Album
When Sleeping Children Around the World extends its "gifts of hope" to a new country there are always unforeseen challenges.

Zimbabwe has experienced a very steep learning curve but 4,000 children are sleeping more comfortably in this country of great promise because the Rotary Club of Harare and Sleeping Children Around the World made a commitment to make it work.

We did !!!!

Grant Clark
for Team Zimbabwe 2010

Post your comments here.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Zimbabwe: Carving out a Living

From Zimbabwe 2010 Photo Album
We took a side tour to visit a local stone carving artist. The stones that they are working in are serpentine, soapstone, rappoko, and springstone. Carvings can be found for sale everywhere along the side of the road and at markets.

Our driver wound his way through side streets and alleyways until we pulled into a driveway and were in carving heaven!! We passed piles of stone and rocks strewn all around and dust flying everywhere.

The grounds were covered with carvings for sale. Garden lovers would take one of everything we saw. Some large carvings were over one metre high and very heavy.

From Zimbabwe 2010 Photo Album
The first stage of carving was simple chipping away of the rock so that a rough form could be “imagined.” This time-consuming use of chisels continues and the imagination and talent of the artist transforms the piece into a mother and child, or a Big 5 animal display: elephant, tiger, water buffalo, cheetah, and giraffe. Free-form figures of families are popular as they are carved to show the entwining parents and child(ren) or animal families interconnected. Sidney and I adored the giraffe family carving seen here. If only it was one fifth the size and light enough to carry!

When the final carving is completed the figure goes to the sander who has a bowl of water and fine sandpaper. The wet sanding smooths the stone. Finally the carving is polished to a high shine and displayed on the shelf. As the light was fading – remember it’s winter in Zimbabwe and it gets dark by 5:30 pm – we were squinting in the showroom, which had no electricity, trying to find just the right size, style, and colour of carving. Leslie worked her bartering magic and came away with an armful of treasures.

Imagine if you will the cool winter air in Harare and the small fires the artists make to try to stay warm as they sit for hours shaping and perfecting their carving. A fine layer of white stone dust covered the artists, the leaves, trees, plants, and horizontal surfaces in the open courtyard. We wove our way through the crowded courtyard on a guided tour. It was fascinating to watch the complete process, (although one piece takes days, weeks, or months to finish, depending on its size) by wandering around going from station to station.

We have bought carvings from various markets to take home. Our end is near and we want something special to remember our Zim experience – other than the children – whom we can’t take home!!

One more sleep to go before we return home.

Helen Scott
for the ZZZZZZZZZZZim team

Post your comments here.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Zimbabwe: A Child’s Home

From Zimbabwe 2010 Photo Album
In casual conversation with a child who was to receive a bedkit we were invited by his caregiver, his aunt, to view their modest home. Both parents of the boy had died. Upon arriving at the home, we saw that it was made up of a small room only about a foot bigger than the double-size bed inside, which served as a bedroom, kitchen, living room, and dining room. It was quite dark, there were no light fixtures. There was a double bed with a mattress where the aunt and two children slept and one child slept next to the bed on the floor. The mosquito net over the bed seemed to be ancient and probably was not treated. Inside the room there was a small vanity, a little closet, a small television, a shelf with kitchen utensils, a gas burner for cooking, a propane tank, and a container of water for cooking. In the back was a deep well where the families got their water (not drinking water). We watched a lady pull up a long rope attached to a container with holes in the bottom where water was leaking out, so by the time the bucket reached the top, it was only half full. There was also a bathroom area which contained a real toilet that appeared to work but did not, as well as a sink with a tap that did not function. Therefore there was no water in the taps. The outside area of the house served several families. There were a couple of plots with vegetables growing.

"I was not very shocked at the size of the home because I knew that the area where we were was very poor. The aunt taking care of the three children seemed very proud to show us her home and have us take pictures of the place to put on our website. One thing that really shocked me -- that I have noticed in other destitute areas as well -- is that many of the people have cell phones and televisions but no food, water, shelter, or clothing to their name."
Hilda, (Sidney’s Grandma):
"As a Mother and Grandmother I know how much work it is to take care of your children. In these circumstances it must be 100 percent more work. Just watching the woman pull a half pail of water from the well, how much time that took, plus doing the laundry by hand, making sure all the children are clean and fed (if there is any food to be had) before they head off to school is mind boggling. This is how they spend their day, just surviving. I am also truly amazed how clean swept the yard is, even though it consists of dirt."
From Zimbabwe 2010 Photo Album
The aunt was such an amazing woman, so eager to show the Canadians her home, and before we left Grant asked her permission to put pictures of her home on our blog as well as share her story, she asked for the website. Grant was truly amazed when he told her that both her and her brother whipped out their phones to record the address. But she was such a wonderful woman, I truly wish her lifestyle was better. Hopefully the fact that her nephew received a bedkit helped a little.

Hilda and Sidney
for Team Zimbabwe 2010

Post your comments here.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Zimbabwe: Patience

From Zimbabwe 2010 Photo Album
Patience is a virtue. This describes Zimbabweans. We Canadians have a plan and want to stick to it. In Zimbabwe, to wait is part of life. The children who have been promised a bedkit have taken that to heart and have shown us that waiting is what they will to do to get one. Their parents, mostly mothers, have been appreciative of the opportunity their child has been given to receive a much needed gift. For many children the wait has been long. A day without food or water is a small price to pay for the reward to be earned.

The children who are at the front of the line receive their bedkits and happily return home to set up their bedkit and I let them know that they should have a nap, just to practise sleeping on a mattress with a soft pillow covered by sheets and a warm blanket!! They beam with pride.

The children who watch this process going on from the back of the line – hundreds of bedkits away, show immense patience: quietly eyeing the process of setting up the photograph, “cheesing” for the photographer, filing past two tables to complete the confirmation of the gift that they are about to receive, and, finally having a bag filled with their bedkit items handed to them!! Sometimes the bag is bigger than the child! This is the time when the child who is close to the end continues to smile, knowing that the room full of bedkits, has one guaranteed for him/her. This process may be hours away. That is what they will do, sometime today. There is only silence and big eyes following the children ahead of them in line. No complaints. No whining. No outbursts. No tears. Just patience.

From Zimbabwe 2010 Photo Album
When I hand bedkits to children, I let them know it will be a wonderful sleep they will have tonight. I tell them to have sweet dreams, all wrapped up in their blanket, on their new mattress. To see their beaming smiles and words of thanks, after waiting all day to finally be the “one” is satisfying, and makes me proud to know I have made a difference.

Our Zim team has made a difference. Perhaps the children will dream of Canada. I told children today what our winter is like. It is winter here now. I described what downhill skiing is and how to make a snowman. Big round eyes showed their interest. I told them to dream big. They smiled and said: "Yes!!"

Sleeping Children makes dreams come true.

Sleep well, because, as of today, thousands more children in Zimbabwe will.


Helen Scott
for Team Zimbabwe 2010

Post your comments here.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Zimbabwe: Every child's right

From Zimbabwe 2010 Photo Album
It is every child’s right to have a peaceful night’s sleep.

Murray Dryden coined this phrase in the early 70s and it has become the beacon of hope that unites the many people who volunteer their time and talents for Sleeping Children Around the World.

It is also the right of every child to be loved.

This powerful motivator is the energy that lifts our charity to exceptional heights of achievement. Our volunteers touch the hearts of many of the world’s most needy children in their own personal ways. Our team leader, Leslie Banner, was in conversation with a member of the Overseas Volunteer Organization and was unaware of the little two year old child who was crawling towards her. Our team members watched as this beautiful child approached Leslie and paused to look up at her in the most inquisitive fashion.

From Zimbabwe 2010 Photo Album
The moment was truly unique.

The child edged even closer until he could no longer resist the urge to reach out his small hand to touch Leslie. It was at this precise moment that Leslie became aware that she was about to receive the perfect Zimbabwe welcome.

This little child melted into her arms in an instant. It was one of those unscripted experiences that represented our shared desire to bring hope to those less fortunate.

Grant Clark
for Team Zimbabwe 2010

Post your comments here.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Zimbabwe: Superwoman Anne

From Zimbabwe 2010 Photo Album
Anne is one of the Rotarians working with us on today’s distributions of bedkits in Hatcliffe.

As we arrived, everything was in full swing. Bundles of bedkits were being unloaded and children were being registered and dressed in their new clothes -- ready to have their photo taken.

Anne had an army of junior Rotarians working for us. They spoke the local language, Shona, and English which was a great help to us. There was Allington and Blint behind the camera person, who not only got the children to smile but laugh out loud at times.

Others helped getting them to receive their large bundle of a gift and go back to their parents. Now and then during a lull these young Rotarians would show off their dance moves to Michael Jackson music. And can they move.

From Zimbabwe 2010 Photo Album
The travelling team was invited to Anne’s house for an after-distribution meal. She promised us Zimbabwean fare.

One of the delicacies was a bowl full of large, brown, crisp critters, which we all dutifully if not with some disgust chewed and swallowed except for one person who shall remain nameless and another who had a valid excuse.

A fun ending to a great day.

Hilda Reinauer-Stark
for Team Zimbabwe 2010

Post your comments here.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Zimbabwe: The Very First Distribution

From Zimbabwe 2010 Photo Album
The Zimbabwe team had a very interesting first day for distributions. There were a few setbacks such as having a transport truck for the bedkits at Chicurubi that broke down and as a result could only drive backwards.

But other than the few minor holdups and a late start the distribution ran smoothly. The children were very respectful and were full of energy which was great for us to see and made us very happy. Also the caregivers that were on the site looking on were very helpful and patient when waiting for the next set of bedkits to arrive. They even helped move them to where they had to be. At our second site (Msasa) there was a small delay with the receiving of the bedkits but everything ran quite smoothly and the problem was solved easily with patience and a good attitude.

The caregivers at Msasa were wonderful as well. They were very excited to have their children receiving the bedkits. The children were so excited and had so much energy. They came over to the group and talked to us quite a bit and I managed to make a friend in the group.

From Zimbabwe 2010 Photo Album
We also found at Msasa that there were quite a few disabled children and we thought it was great that these children were receiving bedkits -- especially because they require special care.

So, all in all, it was a great first distribution day: we learned a lot about what needs to be done in the future, so we made the best of our situation and I believe we make a great team!

I’m so glad I’m here to experience this because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it’s so satisfying to know that I’m helping a child to sleep better.

Sidney Gittens
for Team Zimbabwe 2010

Post your comments here.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Zimbabwe: Thursday, the first day in Harare

Mangwananee!! (Hello in the language of Shona - forgive the spelling!)

Our first full day in Zim has been a busy one. As a newcomer to the SCAW family, I am in awe of the careful, methodical work and extensive amount of time that has been put into the organization of this project. I know I am in good hands and with a competent team.

We unpacked and arranged a sample bedkit (as shown in the photo), performed the errands that go with last minute snags, and met with our Rotarian friends. For Sidney (the other newbie) and I, it has been an important dress rehearsal to be able to experience the time needed to make sure we are all ready for the big day.

We are all one team now: the Rotarians and SCAW volunteers!!

For me, this has been a two-year dream to volunteer with SCAW: my Christmas present is about to be opened tomorrow!! I have goose bumps in anticipation of the day ahead. We will be saying "Taysaka!" ("Smile!") many times on Friday! I’m sure I will hardly be able to sleep tonight!!

Mazweeta. (Thank you.)

Helen Scott
for Team Zimbabwe 2010

Post your comments here.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Zimbabwe: The team has arrived

The Zimbabwe 2010 team has arrived in Harare after almost 20 hours of flying time, and an overnight in Johannesburg, where it was a chilly 6 degrees Celsius.

We were met at the airport by representatives of our Rotary Club partners, including Oscar Orange (Back row, centre).

Post your comments here.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Zimbabwe: The team meets at 28 Pinehurst

Sleeping Children Around the World is going to Zimbabwe for the first time this year.

This week, the Zimbabwe travelling team met at Sleeping Children's house in Etobicoke to prepare for the trip.

Pictured are (Left to right): Grant Clark, Hilda Reinauer-Stark, Doug Jamieson, Leslie Banner, Helen Scott, and Sidney Gittens.

They hope to be sending reports from Zimbabwe when the distribution of bedkits begins.

Post your comments here.

Zimbabwe: Post your comments here

As a courtesy, please include your name at the end of your comment or click on Select profile ... and fill in your name by selecting Name/URL. You don't have to fill in the URL but if you like you can put "www.scaw.org" there.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Uganda trip reports posted

The donor newsletter for the Uganda bedkit distribution has gone to print and can be downloaded from the Sleeping Children Website.
Uganda Photos 2010
Photos are available in the Uganda 2010 Photo Album. You can view them by clicking the link above.

If you would like to read the reports on the web, you can read them in their entirety here.

Here is a download link for the PDF version of the newsletter.