Tag Archives: Guzha

Journal 10 – November 10, 2011

10 Nov

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

The old truck has been sold. We received $1,500 for it and it will cost more than that for the buyer to put it in running condition. The money from the sale has been set aside for another truck but it will take a lot of additional money to be able to purchase something that doesn’t break down every time one turns around. We need something with a larger engine than the one that we have had. The old truck had insufficient power when loaded.

A large truck is needed for hauling food supplies from Harare, for the feeding program. The poultry project also needs a big truck for hauling feed for the project as well as marketing the chickens. At this time of year seed and fertilizer must be hauled as well. Presently HCOC has to hire a truck and the cost ranges from $250.00 to $600.00 per trip. The price depends on the number of items or the weight of the load and whether they are hauling from Harare or Murewa.

Friday, was a very special day for the children at Guzha Primary School. It was the day that prizes were given to outstanding students. A large crowd of parents and friends assembled for the program. Jeff and I were invited to attend the special ceremony. Groups of children presented skits and musical numbers. The District Education Officer handed out the prizes to the top students at each grade level. The prizes had been donated by the Vice-Mayor of Harare. His assistant was present to witness the handing out of the prizes. The students received practical things such as new back-packs, note books, tooth paste and bars of soap. What an exciting day for the children!

The Executive Committee met yesterday to make a decision about what to do with the small container of Ralph’s ashes that Albert brought back when he returned from the U.S. They decided that they wanted to place the small brass urn in a granite tombstone. The stone will be set near the gate to the HCOC site. A native tree will be planted to shade the stone. Today, the committee went to meet with the Sub-Chief of this area to inform him of their decision. All their plans were approved by the Sub-Chief. Wednesday, they will meet with Chief Nyawembawa as a matter of formality. Jeff returned and said that the people in this area think of Ralph as a Hero.

Work is progressing nicely on the water projects. The trenching at Guzha is complete and the base for the tank stand is in place. The pump and solar panels will be installed by a special crew that does solar pumps. Annevor Systems will install the security fence and electric wire to protect the solar panels. Guzha is responsible for having 24 hour guards at the site of the solar panels to safe guard against theft. Solar panels are economical to operate but they are always a target of thieves.

At HCOC all 380 meters of trenching for the piping should be completed by Wednesday. The tank stand base is in place and we are expecting the installation crew to arrive on Wednesday. They will camp here until the project is completed. Everyone is excited about having piped water at the poultry project in addition to themain buildings and garden. We anticipate that all will be finished before we leave to drive back to South Africa on December 1.

In the picture at the left, the man standing in the trench sited a Black Mamba snake just to the right of where he is working. He described it as being very large. He said it was as big around as his forearm. Black Mambas are sometimes seen in this area and are greatly feared. It is rare for anyone who is bitten to survive. This area of HCOC site has been undisturbed for years. Now the activity, as a result of the development, is disturbing their habitat.

Jeff and I recently visited the factory where the Sadza Cooker is being built. This picture only shows the part of the unit where the food is cooked. It will be quit a process to install it here at the Feeding Center. This will allow the cooks to prepare large amounts of food without standing over an open fire. When the Sadza is cooked, it can be removed and kept hot while other menu items are being prepared. The last time Jeff spoke with the people at the factory, they indicated that they would be ready to install this coming week. Things are finally beginning to fall into place.

In closing, I ask for your prayers that the projects will be completed before we leave to return to Colorado. I also ask for prayers that somehow funds for a big truck be provided to HCOC. A truck is desperately needed.

In His Service,



Journal 9: October 31, 2011 From Zimbabwe

31 Oct

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

I have commented in previous journals about the weather being so mild for this time of year. October is usually the hottest month of the year; this year the nights have been chilly and the days very pleasant. Last week that all changed. It has become unbearably hot. We no longer have a thermometer but it has to be plus 100 degrees. The nights don’t even cool until after mid-night. So Jeff decided enough of the heat and bought a fan, pictured at the right. We call it our air conditioner. We locate it in the lounge so that it blows toward the two bedrooms. It makes sleeping a lot more pleasant.

This morning Jeff and I had to make a trip to Guzha Primary School to deliver some food supplies to the kitchen. We also needed to check on the preparations for Trevor’s workers who will install the tank stand. While I was there I took some pictures of the traditional type of dwelling that the children are constructing. There is a push, by the Ministry of Education, to have the children learn about how their ancestors lived. The structure is small made of small poles and plastered inside and out with mud from termite mounds. The first coat of mud cracks as it dries. A second coat is applied. The interior walls are also coated with clay mud from termite mounds. A fire pit occupies the center of the room. Benches line the interior walls. The thatched roof keeps the rondavel cool.

Outfitting the well at HCOC has to be scaled back a bit. We will continue to use the booster pump that is in the pump house rather than buying a new one. It isn’t a good pump but will have to do for the present time. We discovered, by accident, that the grant money actually wired was less than we expected. However, the well production is better than expected and we are pleased about that. We will be able to supply water to the
poultry project which will eliminate the need to haul it from various places.

The first batch of chickens has been completely sold. They were able to use some of the chickens to pay the school fees for the three children at Cheunje Boarding School. This amounted to $750.00. The second batch of chickens is growing quickly and will be ready for market beginning next week. A third batch of chickens will be moved from the brooder room to the fowl run in another week. It looks like they will have a batch of chickens to market every month. With the facilities that we have, that is the best we can do. Ideally, it would be easier to market if they had chickens ready for market each week. That way they would have steady customers in Murewa; restaurants, grocery stores, hospital, etc.

Tuesday, Albert had made arrangements for a group of us to visit Mother of Peace, an orphanage in Mutoko. It is located about 60 km from Murewa. I have visited there a couple of times in the past but I was interested in having Jeff see it. We especially wanted to see their facilities for housing children. We have reached a point where it is important for some children, that are living in child headed households, to be moved into a safe environment. Some of these children are being sexually abused by intruders and sometimes by relatives. It was recommended that we provide for outdoor cooking. This would be in keeping with the way people live in the community where many of the children will return when they have completed their schooling and/or training.

The little boy that I am holding is three years old. I would have guessed that he was much younger. He came to me and pulled on my skirt and held his arms up to be picked up. He has the biggest smile on his face. There are so many unwanted children here. I feel sorry for these children; many of them have just been abandoned.

Mother of Peace houses 129 children at the moment. They also sponsor 150 children who have been integrated back into the community and are living with extended family members. They described the slow, meticulous process they go through to integrate these children back with relatives or foster homes. In a few cases it has not worked and they have had to bring the children back to Mother of Peace.

As Jeff was driving to Guzha Primary School, he noticed a group of people gathered at a borehole that did not get repaired last year. The villagers had gathered together and were working on their own borehole. There are some parts left over from last year that Jeff will provide to them. Other parts Jeff plans to purchase for them in Harare. They constructed a fence around the pump to protect it from cattle. A cement basin protects the well from contamination and they have a trough leading under the fence to a dug pit lined with cement. The run off from the pump drains into the pit where the cattle come to drink. The pump is also kept locked and is unlocked only at designated times. The villagers have decided that those who do not contribute to the maintenance cannot have access to the water. Efforts from last year have paid off.

Please pray that the installation of pumps goes smoothly and all work will be complete before we leave.

In His Service, Roberta

October 5, 2011 Zimbabwe Students and God’s Blessings

5 Oct

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

Tomorrow Jeff and I need to go to Harare to take care of several bits of business. So I am going to put together a Journal to night. I am uncertain when we will be going back to town. However, some weeks the trips are rather frequent. So far we have driven 6,200 km since picking up the truck in SA. That gives an idea of the frequent trips to Harare.

Sunday, October 2, we traveled to Nyahuni Boarding School. Tracey and Pertronella, two orphans, are students
HCOC has been sponsoring there. Sunday was a gathering of friends and families for the end of the year awards
celebration. Tracy, the girl whose picture is on the left received three awards. She was the top student in her
grade in physical science, agriculture and commercial studies. We are so very proud of her.

Petronella, the girl in the picture on the right, was the top student in her grade level in Geography. It has been a struggle to find the money for school fees for these children but their achievements have been our reward. We are committed to providing for their schooling if at all possible.

We presently have three students attending Cheunje Boarding School. Those three students will be graduating at the end of this term. Due to the shortage of funds, there are no plans at this time to start any new students in Boarding School beginning the school year in January.

This has been a rainy week. It has begun to rain the last three evenings just after dark. This evening it is a gentle steady rain. Last night we had hard rain with wind and some hail. Normally this time of year we get scattered showers but not heavy rains. I guess the weather is changing the world over.

In spite of the rains the Well Drillers were able to do their work. The men and equipment arrived at HCOC about noon on Monday, October 3. They began drilling early afternoon and hit water at about 45 meters. The following day they continued drilling to 70 meters and continued to get some water. The final results are about 500 gallons an hour. It isn’t as good as we had hoped for but better than previous attempts. It certainly will provide for the crops that are soon to be planted.

Tuesday afternoon, the well drillers tore down their rig and Jeff led them to Guzha Primary School. We were not optimistic about the prospects of getting water. The hydrologist gave us only a 67 % chance of finding water. He thought the best we could hope for was enough water for a hand pump. Today, they continued to drill to 70 meters and continued to find more water.

The water was coming in so fast that the driller couldn’t blow out the borehole to install the casing. The casing that they were attempting to install kept breaking because the water and soil created too much pressure. It was necessary for them to call for a heavier casing. The final results were 2,000 gallons per hour. This is far beyond our wildest expectations. When we left the people were dancing and celebrating.

On Monday Trevor, the person that we will be buying the pumps from, will be coming out to HCOC. We had originally hoped to put in a solar pump at Guzha but he may advise otherwise. Guzha does not have electricity or any hopes of getting electricity in the near future. There are many decisions to be made and lots of work to be accomplished. Once we meet with Trevor, we will have a better idea of the time frame we are dealing with.

The picture on the right is the view outside our door this morning after the rain last night. The Jacaranda trees are in full bloom and the ground was covered in purple blossoms. I hated to see anyone walk on them but then
the goats were out and they love to eat the blossoms.

God has truly answered our prayers for good sources of water. Praise Him! We ask for your prayers as we make decisions next week. Our goal is to be God’s hands and feet in this place and to carry out His will.

In His Service,


September 25, 2011 Some Cuts are needed Due to Low Revenue

25 Sep

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

Some projects here are moving forward and others are at a standstill. Thursday, a large truck load of sawdust was delivered for bedding in the chicken run. The sawdust is free, there is only a charge for the trucking. We are going to have to figure out a way to store such a quantity. We won’t need it all at one time but as the batches of chickens are moved all of the bedding must be replaced.

Friday, we brought home 700 day old chicks. Jeff worried all the way about losing them. He had waited in the heat for nearly an hour for an order of food for the chicks. However, all was well when we finally arrived. The following morning they were all still alive. Albert was very pleased. Losing a few in the beginning is normal. The other batch of chickens is now six weeks old. They will begin selling those later next week. In three weeks we plan to purchase another 700 chicks. The goal is to have three batches of chickens at different ages going all of the time.

We have to make some tough decisions. It is the part of the job that I don’t like. Our revenue sources are not generating enough income to keep the Mission operating. The number of orphans has not changed significantly. Costs of operation have increased. We need to make some significant cuts somewhere. The chicken project is at the point now that it generates enough income to sustain it and also to produce some profit. I estimate that they will realize about $600.00 plus every six to eight weeks. But that will not cover all the expenses in other areas.

Some cuts we are considering are: No longer providing uniforms for orphans. This should save about $6,000.00 each year. We need to ship the clothing that ZMP has gathered as soon as possible so that these children will have something to wear.

1. School fees are another big expenditure. We have only been paying a portion of the school fees for a couple of years. Now that is even difficult. Schools have been encouraged to develop income generation projects that will help pay school fees of orphans. But even that takes money they don’t have.

2. We have recommended that outstanding students no longer be sent to Boarding School. So in January, the beginning of the school year, no new students will be sent to Boarding School. Some small groups at Church have supported these student in the past but donations for those fees have been slow to come and sometimes not at all. We presently have five students attending Boarding School. Somehow we want to be able to let them finish their O-Levels, which is equal to a high school graduation. It costs $1,500.00 per term for the five students. There are three terms in the school year.

3. One of our big expenses is petrol for the vehicles. We are asking the staff, who uses the vehicles, to use public transport wherever possible. Instead of using petrol for the vehicles to ferry water to the chickens, garden etc. we are considering buying oxen and a water carts for such purposes. The oxen will cost about $800. Presently a hand dug well close to the chickens is being dug. We are encouraged by the flow of water. It should produce enough water for the chickens.

4. Since the Sewing Co-Op will no longer be making uniforms for HCOC, I have been working with them on a business plan, so they will be able to continue to have an income. Unfortunately, many people in the community cannot afford to pay for school uniforms. So I am encouraging them to buy fabric and make other types of clothing that they can try and sell in Murewa or even Harare. They had already begun to do a bit of this. Some people bring their own fabric and the women make whatever they request. That way they charge for their time and a bit for maintenance of machines.

Some things never change…..We thought we had a well driller hired. When we called the driller, after the hydrologist had cited for wells, and he was booked up for a month. That would be after we were scheduled to return to the U.S. We have a different well drilled booked for next Monday, Oct. 3. Pray for us that we are fortunate and find good sources of water. We can’t schedule the pump installer until we know what kind of water supply we find. This delay has set us behind schedule and we may have to reschedule our return. It won’t be the first time.

In closing I ask for your prayers for Jeff and me. We need strength and wisdom to do what needs to be done here. I also ask that you pray that God will provide good sources of water where we drill. Without a good source of water, future expansion at the site is out of the question.

In His Service,


September 14, 2011 Zimbabwe Mission

14 Sep

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

Our gardener, Lovemore’s wife passed away a couple of days ago in Motoko. She had been in not good health for some time. More recently she had been in the hospital in Motoko. Yesterday, Mr. Bondeponde drove the big truck to go and pick up the body for burial at the family home. Mr. Bondeponde called at about 5:00 to say that the clutch had gone out on the truck about 10 km from the location they were to pick up the body. Jeff and Bryce had just come in from working all day. They were hot and tired and had not had dinner. So they drove with Albert to the township to see if they could hire a truck and driver to go and rescue the group and bring the body back. The rescue team left here about 7:00 and I understand that they got back here about 1:00 am. They towed the big truck back as well. So
it was not left on the side of the road to be vandalized. The funeral is today. Teachers have taken turns going to the home of the family. I put in a brief appearance because Jeff and Bryce were busy.

The guys have been busy working at the chicken run. The building was constructed earlier in the year. The openings were to be covered with chicken wire. However, the job was poorly done and it would not keep out varmints. We purchased a roll of new wire when we were in town earlier in the week. Jeff and Bryce have worked to get the job done correctly. They also purchased plastic canvass to cover the windows of the brooder building.

This group of chickens is doing very well and should be ready for market in less than two weeks. The brooder room is clean and ready for a new batch of day old chicks. Godfrey is ordering them today. Jeff and I hope to get them operating on a three week cycle of 700 chicks in each batch.

Yesterday afternoon a USAID truck arrived with a delivery of medicine for the HCOC (Heather Chimhoga Orphan Care) clinic. They are well supplied for several months. The only medicine that is not provided is medicine for ringworm and for Bilharzia. The medicine for Bilharzia is very expensive and works only if children are educated about staying out of polluted water. It is not easy to convince children to stay out of the water, especially when it is very hot.

Bryce left last Friday, September 16. It has left a void for me. I miss him terribly. He kept Jeff and I busy and on our toes. I had not realized how many traits that he has like Ralph. I only see him on brief visits in Houston and in Denver.

We have had a set-back. The well driller we used last year had told Jeff to give him three or four days’ notice and he would come and drill the wells. So when the hydrologist had completed his work and sent his report, Jeff notified the well driller that we were ready for him. Then we were told that he was booked for 30 days. So today we are in town to meet with another well driller. Hopefully he can get to us in a couple of weeks.

Jeff is also attending a Rotary meeting at lunch time. The club he is meeting with is the host club for this project. Perhaps they can help us get a reliable driller. In closing, I ask that you pray that we can find a well driller soon and that the drilling will be successful. Unfortunately, we are in an area where it is difficult to find water. We are going to be limited in our expansion if we cannot get adequate water.

In His Service,


September 04, 2011 Zimbabwe Journal

4 Sep

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

Our need for an ambulance was reaffirmed this afternoon. Late in the afternoon, Jeff was summoned to take a woman to the hospital. Beauty the nurse felt that she was having a stroke. Albert went with Jeff to the hospital. The road from here to the tarmac is very rough and so it was a long trip. It was after dark before they returned. Jeff says the road is rougher after dark. The woman was admitted to the hospital.

Bryce arrived yesterday morning, Saturday September 3. It was good to have him here after a very long trip. Bryce had worked all day Thursday at his office and then left at 6:00 in the evening to begin the long trip here, 34 hours of travel. He seemed to not be too tired because he had been able to sleep some on the plane.

After some errands, we returned to the mission. We found that there was no power. We have had no power since a week ago today. Without power we have no water either. The tanks at our house still had a small amount of water in them. Jeff started a load of his laundry and Bryce rigged the generator up to operate the washing machine. It worked fine but then we ran out of water. Can’t do laundry without water!! This morning Bryce hooked up the generator to the pump in the well.

Water is pumping into the tanks as I type this. The teachers want to turn on the big tanks but Bryce locked them down until the generator can pump enough water to get ahead of the demand that there will be. Soooo, Bryce has really been put to work.

Our biggest challenge at the moment is water. The garden at the expansion site is minimal because the amount of water available is very limited. Water has to be hauled from Nyamashato to the chicken project. This takes the time of someone who can drive. Albert still doesn’t have anyone to take Mr. Scott’s place. As you may remember Mr. Scott passed away last year.

When we made a visit to Inyagui, we learned that they were unable to start the generator to pump water. Bryce and Jeff worked on it and determined that the air filter had not been cleaned. They finally were able to start it by jumping it with the truck battery. Enough water was pumped to last for a few days until a new battery could be found.

Today, September 8, I rode with Bryce and Jeff to Inyagui School. The gardener was busy expanding the garden. The Headmistress told us that he is a community volunteer. He had told her that he wanted to help the orphans. We hope this sets an example for others in the community.

I suggested that the staff at the school (Inyagui) dig a pit at the water tank to catch the run off when people come to collect water. I also suggested that water used to wash vegetables and to do dishes could also be dumped into the pit. I told them that they could dip buckets of water from the pit to use in watering the garden. When Jeff and Bryce returned from there the other day they were busy digging the pit. They will brick it and cement the inside to hold the water.

It is 4:00 in the afternoon and we have just received a phone call from Albert. He is stranded in Harare. He and Godfrey had gone to town today to pick up things necessary for the Memorial Service for tomorrow and food supplies for the Feeding Center. On their way out of town, they heard a noise and stopped to have a look, only to discover that one of the front wheels was about to come off the truck. Jeff and Bryce have just left to go pick them up and bring the supplies back that they have purchased.

Friday, September 9th the Memorial Service for Ralph was held. People were everywhere. It was estimated that there
were 1,500 people who attended excluding children. People attended from the district offices as well as the people locally. Some of our friends from Harare also attended. Many spoke of the things that had been accomplished over the 15 years we had been coming to Zimbabwe.

Today, September 13, we are in Harare to purchase materials so that Bryce can construct some coverings for the windows needed for the chicken brooder. At present they are using plastic that flaps in the breeze and is pretty well torn up. I think they have to replace it every time they buy a new batch of chicks. This seems to be wasted money.

I hope to have an opportunity to send this before we leave Harare. I don’t always have a chance to
email when we are in town.

In His Service,


September 2, 2011 Arrive in Harare

2 Sep


Jeff and I arrived safely in Harare about 6:30 last night, Friday.  We stayed at the B & B that Ralph and I often stayed at.  The drive was long and tiring but had no truck problems.  Crossing the border went off in a fairly timely fashion.  However, there was one glitch that was overcome by my age. Ha! Ha!  Customs discovered that I only had four or five pages left in my passport and refused to give me a visa.  He insisted that I go to a US Embassy and get additional pages.  It was very obvious that most of the pages were filled with Zimbabwe Visas from past years.  SA had not found it a problem when we landed at Jo’bug.  After much talking and his scrutinizing my passport, he realized my age and finally gave me the visa.  He said I was older than his great granny.  In this culture age is respected.  Sooo old age does have its perks.

In a few minutes we will leave to visit Derek Forbes and drop off things we brought for people here in Zimbabwe.  Then Jeff and I will pick up some supplies and head out to school.  Getting the house opened is always a long stressful day.  I am glad that we both had a good rest last night.  Jeff was really tired after the long day yesterday.  The roads in Zimbabwe have not improved any.

Albert called yesterday.  Everyone at HCOC is anxiously awaiting our arrival.  I am afraid that is going to be a difficult reunion for me.

More later.

In His Service,