Saturday, June 30, 2012

Brick by Brick

 While in Zimbabwe, we spent time in the gorgeous Honde Valley region. We went to meet and walk alongside the care workers at Pimai Caring Trust, the community based organization supported by Hands at Work. When we arrived at the care centre the first morning, we were impressed to see the work that had already begun on the newly acquired land. As the story unfolded on how these care workers came to be doing what they are doing, impressed is understating it. We learned that a few years ago, a few people in the valley were challenged to take on the mandate of caring for the sick, the widowed and the orphaned of Honde Valley. These few people have changed the landscape of the valley in an extraordinary way. They started meeting at our friend Farai’s land, under a mango tree. It is a humble beginning for what has evolved. For some time, they met and set out to do home visits from that mango tree. After a few months, they began to feel that they needed to find a central location in the valley, not only to meet and set out from, but also to begin feeding children from. The care workers had identified nearly 180 children in the area that were the poorest and most vulnerable. They assessed the children and began to feed 50 of those children daily, Monday to Friday, sometimes providing the only meal that these children would receive. As they found land and secured it through the local chief and headmen of the area, they began to dream. The dream involved bricks. Lots and lots of bricks. In fact, approximately 25,000 of them. Where does one find bricks in the Honde Valley? Right below your feet. One by one, the care workers dug out the red clay dirt of the land, moulded them by hand into bricks and fired them to become the building blocks of the structure we walked up to when we arrived. Bricks have become two buildings, one a small office for the care workers to work from, attached to a small classroom for gathering for training or for leading classes with children. The other building is the kitchen and dining area for the feeding program, although it’s much more than that. It’s the safe place where children come to get a meal, play with other children, get a break from the daily work and survival of life in the valley, and it’s a place where they are shown love and respect by the care workers who serve them, talk with them and offer them parental guidance and help with school work or the day’s issues. In many ways, it’s the home that these children don’t experience when they go to bed each night. The dreaming continues in the Honde Valley. There are plans underway for a piggery – four pigs – and chickens to provide an income to support the work that is happening in Pimai Caring Trust. There is also a plan for a community garden to teach kids gardening skills as well as to provide supplemental food for the feeding program. The care workers here cover many kilometres up and down the mountainsides of the Honde Valley, visiting the children and those who are sick or dying. They must use those kilometres to plan and dream because every step is bringing them closer to the reality.
25,000 + bricks were made by hand to provide a care point for the kids of Pimaii

Bricks drying in the sun...each made by the hands that serve the widowed and the orphaned of Honde Valley.

Volunteer Care Workers divided their time between home visits, cooking for the kids of Pimaii, and building bricks for the care centre. 

Some of the children of Pimaii look on while the care workers build a place for them.

Hauling water by hand, digging with simple tools, and filling molds by hand - these volunteers can honestly say that love built this care centre. There's no other reason that would compel them to give so much of themselves.

The care workers spent themselves on building the care centre so that the children of Pimaii could have a place to come, get a meal, get help with homework, play and be cared for by a loving adult.

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