Following two successful trips to Zimbabwe last year, Martha and David Holman from local charity Love Zimbabwe are once again taking students to their community centre in Domboshawa, near the capital Harare.
Last year nine students from the Anthropology Department of Lampeter University visited the country to participate in community projects. They focused on creating five organic, permaculture ‘keyhole’ gardens and helped start digging the foundations for a new library/learning centre on the community land.
Key-hole gardens are a tried and tested way to grow vegetables in poor soil and water scarce environments. A clever permaculture design of a raised bed around a central compost where ash from the cook fire, household waste water and all food scraps are deposited, provides constant nutrition for growing vegetables.
In April, Martha and David, along with their daughter, Tanaka will travel with six new students to continue building the library. When it is complete, the structure will house four computer rooms, a ‘quiet’ lounge for studying and a large shelved area to house books.
The need for this facility was identified two years ago, when Martha and David talked to local people and the community centre committee, who spoke about the frustration of not being able to afford to send their children to school.
The impact of this lack of education creates a vicious circle of poverty. Children growing up with no literacy have no chance of getting any of the few jobs that are available. The solution suggested by the locals was for Love Zimbabwe charity to raise money to build the learning centre, which would be open to all for self-improvement.
The charity has been fortunate to receive donations from The Methodist Church in Castle Street, Abergavenny who raised £525 during last year’s Food Festival. The Abergavenny Rotary Club contributed £250, which will go towards buying a goat as a prize for the best ‘keyhole’ garden. The balance will be put into the building project. The students have also contributed money to further the construction. Other funding is coming from Monmouth Rotary Club who have provided raffle tickets for Love Zimbabwe to sell. So far, £500 has been raised, and there are another 200 tickets available to sell. This money will not complete the building, but will go a long way to help.
Abergavenny Knitting Club has also contributed two suitcases full of knitted jumpers and blankets which will be invaluable in June/July, when it actually gets cold at nights!
Aside from this, the students will be digging two more new ‘keyhole’ gardens in the local community. Two of the students have agreed to come and talk to Abergavenny Rotary Club and The Methodist Church on their return in May, to share their experiences of their first visit to Zimbabwe.
Martha and David will return to the country in August to complete phase two of their water conservation project funded by the Hub Cymru Africa. They already have two more students who have committed to coming with them at this time.
If more money is raised they will also do some more work on the library.
After the August trip, they will host the 11th annual Wales Fair Trade Fair, in Brecon on Saturday October 7 and in Abergavenny on Sunday October 8. Money raised from this event will also go towards the new centre.
Martha and David are so grateful to all the support they have received from different communities in Abergavenny and other parts of Wales. By their return at the end of April, the couple will give a full report on the trip. Please check their website www.lovezimbabwe.co.uk for trip updates or you can follow them on twitter @Love_Zimbabwe