Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lights... Camera... Action!

ASAP Africa will be a guest on Focus Atlanta airing December 31, 2006 at Noon.

We are so excited to have the opportunity to speak with Keisha Williams, the host of Focus Atlanta and bring awareness to the mission of ASAP. Elizabeth and I will provide local viewers with information concerning the history of ASAP, our current projects, and how anyone can get involved in our Meet or Beat Challenge. Please tune in to the CW Atlanta network,formally known as UPN Atlanta, Sunday December 31, 2006 at noon and tell us what you think.

Focus Atlanta is the half-hour community relations program for the CW Atlanta network and has featured guest such as: Mayor Shirley Franklin, T.C. Carson, AID Atlanta, Kenny Leon, Clifton Powell, Eric Jerome Dickey, Hands on Atlanta, and Usher.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Inspiration from Zimbabwe

By Diana Takundwa, ASAP Africa Nyanga Office
A Churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. I've gone and done it for 30 long years now," he wrote, "and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time and the preachers are wasting theirs too by giving lengthy sermons at all." This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column, much to the delight of the editor.

It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:

I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this... They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today.

Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!"

When you are DOWN to nothing...God is UP to something! Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible! Thank God for our physical and our spiritual nourishment! When Satan is knocking at your door, simply say," "Jesus, could you get that for me?"


Monday, December 18, 2006

Double your Impact

Global Giving is matching donations made to organizations through their website in recognition of the holiday season. What this means is that if you make a $35 donation to ASAP's Rural Family Nutrition Initiative in Zimbabwe project today - ASAP Africa will receive $70! Your $35 donation will provide a complete home nutritional garden drip irrigation kit, so a rural family will have increased food security all year round. To the family, this means carrying water less often and harvesting crops more often. A welcomed gift indeed!

The matching donations apply to online and check donations (checks must be received by 12/28) and excludes purchase and redemption of Gift Certificates. So please make your gift today.

The RFNIZ project will improve the lives of over 6,000 families by improving the agricultural practices and providing families with relevant skills and knowledge. With the help of ASAP 300 at-risk families will have the opportunity to grow enough food to feed a family of five or more year-round. There is no greater feeling than knowing your family doesn't have to worry about where the next meal is coming from. The families that benefit from the home drip irrigation kits will be provided with appropriate training to ensure the most effective use of the kits.

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season we must take time to think of our fellow man that is living in poverty. It is our responsibility to help those less fortunate. We all want the best for our families regardless of where we live and your gift of $35 can provide a year supply of food for an entire family. Please take the time to visit and donate today.

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them." Denis Waitley

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Let's Go!

ASAP Africa is proud to announce the receipt of a new grant of $25,000 to support the Health And Nutrition Development Initiative, or HANDEI project. “HANDEI” means “Let’s go” in the Shona language of Zimbabwe. This new project will improve the lives of over 6,000 families with relevant skills and knowledge including
- training in sustainable, cost effective agriculture and perma-culture techniques
- growing and using Moringa trees as a nutritional supplement and for income generation.
(Moringa is a fast growing tree with 7 times the vitamin C of oranges, 4 times the calcium of milk, 4 times the vitamin A of carrots, 3 times the potassium of bananas and 2 times the protein of milk.)
- growing and using medicinal herbs for home remedies and for income generation
- training in psychosocial support and counseling for HIV affected households.

ASAP Africa is excited to welcome this new anonymous Foundation to our team of supporters. Although this list is small, 100% of the Foundations that have made a grant to ASAP Africa since our inception in 1994 have chosen to make subsequent grants to help us fulfill our mission of helping people in their efforts to improve their own lives.

To maximize the benefits of this new grant, ASAP Africa will include training in the use and maintenance of drip irrigation kits along with agriculture skills training. Please visit www.globalgiving to read more about how you too can get involved and support the Rural Family Health Initiative in Zimbabwe. Give the gift of food security, enhanced health & nutrition to a rural family living in Zimbabwe for only $70.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Zimbabwe has world’s highest number of orphans

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says Zimbabwe now has the highest number of orphans in the world due to a severe AIDS pandemic hitting the southern African country. The remarks by UNICEF come as the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) announced a massive US$6 million National Action Plan to improve the plight of orphans in Zimbabwe.

Since 2001 ASAP Africa has been working to address the needs of the ever increasing number of orphans in Zimbabwe, working in partnership with the SIDA to achieve the goals set out by the Zimbabwe National Action Plan for orphans and vulnerable children. ASAP is planning to scale up operations during 2007 – with new project partnerships being planned with also Catholic Relief Services, Plan International and Concern Worldwide.

"Almost one in four children in Zimbabwe . . . are now orphaned, having lost at least one parent, and this number is growing," said Dr Festo Kavishe, Unicef Representative in Zimbabwe. "HIV and AIDS have dramatically increased children’s vulnerability in recent years to the point where Zimbabwe now has the highest percentage of children who are orphans in the world." Kavishe said out of Zimbabwe’s 12 million population, 1.6 million children had been orphaned by AIDS. Zimbabwe is among the hardest hit countries in sub-Saharan Africa with official figures putting AIDS deaths at 3 000 people every week. Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Sten Rylander praised the Zimbabwe government for endorsing the National Action Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable Children which is being coordinated by the Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare. Zimbabwe is in the grip of an unprecedented seven-year old economic crisis that has seen most orphans and vulnerable children barely surviving.

Adapted From Zim Online (SA), 6 December

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Harare is Number One!

Zimbabwe's capital Harare ranks as the world's most expensive city for expatriates due largely to the country's soaring inflation, and displacing Oslo and Tokyo from the top slots, a human resources firm said on Tuesday. "Zimbabwe had massive inflation of 1 700%," Lee Quane, general manager of ECA International, told Reuters. "Although the currency has depreciated, there was a huge increase in the cost of living for Harare," he said. Harare was the 57th most expensive city for expatriates in the 2005 survey.

The world's 10 most expensive cities for expatriates (City; Country (position in 2005 survey))

1. Harare Zimbabwe (57)
2. Luanda Angola (2)
3. Oslo Norway (1)
4. Moscow Russia (8)
5. Kinshasa Democratic Republic of Congo (15)
6. Stavanger Norway (5)
7. Copenhagen Denmark (7)
8. Seoul South Korea (10)
9. Libreville Gabon (12)
10. Tokyo Japan (3)
From News24 (SA), 5 December

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

ASAP partners with

ASAP is excited to announce our newest partnership with This company is a revolutionary online store created for the community-minded shopper. Every transaction made on the Giveline store generates a charitable contribution to your favorite non-profit organization. We hope this is ASAP Africa!. With Giveline's direct supplier relationships, this contribution is significant and truly makes a difference. Thank you for sharing our vision and for shopping with!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Yes! Yes! Yes!

This past Sunday Y.E.S. (Youth Engaged Services) and REC (Religious Education Center) donated their time, energy, and patience once again to help ASAP prepare our Holiday Season Fundraiser. Sixteen helping hands prepared over 100 mailings specially designed by ASAP. The fundraiser is just one way for ASAP to say thank you to our friends for your continued support and a reminder to remember those less fortunate during the holiday season. Y.E.S. and REC volunteered with ASAP last month for our Partners for Literacy Drive and boxed over 5,000 books in less than four hours. Thank you guys for all of your help.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sandy Creek High School Does It Again

ASAP Africa is so inspired by the enthusiasm that the students of Sandy Creek High School continue to show toward achieving our shared vision of a world without poverty. This week Sandy Creek donated a yet another trunk load of books to the Partners for Literacy Book Drive sponsored by ASAP and the Rotary clubs of Peachtree City, Fayette Daybreak, and Fayetteville. All of the books collected will benefit primary school children in Zimbabwe. Flat Rock Middle and Burch Elementary schools have also helped with the drive. ASAP was also surprised to see a bulletin board highlighting the book drive that Mrs. Holland’s class designed. Thank you Sandy Creek High School for all of your hard work!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It's An International Celebration

November 12th-16th is International Education and Exchange Week (IEW). During this week the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education created a joint initiative to promote international awareness. Their goal is to prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, an exchange experiences in the United States. President George Bush once stated “When students get to know each other, they learn the universality of many values. That’s going to be important for peace in the world.”

The truth is that from lack of knowledge many people do perish and this week is dedicated to opening the eyes and minds of many. When we come together as a whole and move forward towards the greater good we will finally become the change that we want to see.

International Education Week will be held November 12th-16th of 2007 and November 17th -21st of 2008. It is never too early or too late to get involved.

For more information visit International Education Week.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New Urban Village Savings & Lending Project

The beauty of urban Zimbabwe is quickly being eroded by overcrowding, unemployment, and the devastating affects of the HIV/AIDs pandemic. To address these urgent issue, ASAP Africa is proud to join forces with Africare, CARE, CRS, Mercy Corps, Oxfam GB, Practical Action and Save the Children UK on a new urban Joint Initiative project.

ASAP Africa , as an implementing partner of CARE Zimbabwe, is proud to announce the birth of our newest partnership, Kufusa Mari Urban. This new project aims to reduce the food insecurity and improve and diversify the income sources of vulnerable households as well as reduce the suffering and improve the resilience of HIV/AIDS affected families. The hope for tomorrow lives in us all, but it is up to us to bring it forth.

Please read more about the Joint Initiative Consortium project here.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Welcome On Board Ed

ASAP is honored to bring Mr. Ed Outlaw to our Board of Directors. Ed officially joined the ASAP team October 31, 2006. He is the President of Outlaw Consulting, Inc. which was founded in 1998. Ed has worked with numerous companies in a variety of industries to negotiate incentives for expansions and relocations, and to help companies take advantage of state tax credits. His educational background includes an undergraduate degree from Emory University and a Masters degree in Taxation from Georgia State University. Ed is an active member of the Peachtree City Rotary Club, the Georgia Society of CPA's, the Georgia Economic Developers Association, the Greater Atlanta Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development, and the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce. For more information on Outlaw Consulting visit

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Priceless Exports

By Elizabeth Bara, ASAP Executive Director
“Our optimism is Zimbabwe’s greatest commodity” explains Willie Dhlandhlara, ASAP’s Zimbabwe Country Director, during our recent conversation. We were discussing why, despite all projections, the Zimbabwe economy keeps right on going. Each month the brain drain continues, and one of the greatest losses to the country is the exodus of skilled teaching professionals. The following article helps one to understand the situation.

From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 27 October

Lessons from Zim
David Macfarlane

Zimbabwe’s loss is set to be South Africa’s gain, as the education department casts covetous eyes on the growing pool of highly qualified Zimbabwean schoolteachers who have fled their home country. The department’s Director General, Duncan Hindle, told the Mail & Guardian that it is targeting Zimbabweans in a plan that will simultaneously encourage South African high school teachers to improve their skills. The idea involves encouraging local teachers to take sabbaticals to upgrade in subjects such as maths, and to replace these teachers for the period of their studies with suitably qualified Zimbabweans. The government has previously spoken of recruiting teachers from Cuba and India to meet growing shortages in scarce skills areas such as maths and science. As part of the strategy, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel’s medium-term budget this week announced that 900 bursaries will be available next year for teachers who want to pursue postgraduate qualifications in maths, science and life skills.

It is not known exactly how many Zimbabwean teachers live in South Africa, but the number runs into thousands, said Doctor Ncube, chairperson of the South African branch of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe. The union recently started compiling a register of these teachers, and has 500 on its books. However, Ncube said the majority were in fields like catering and the security industry. Many had entered the country illegally, and even those with the right paperwork had difficulty in registering professionally as teachers in South Africa. He said: "The few who are teaching endure terrible working conditions in private schools, earning R1 000 or R2 000 a month. If they don’t have the right legal documents, they often have no work contracts, and are exploited as vulnerable cheap labour. If you question your salary, they show you the gate, and another teacher walks in to replace you." Very low teachers’ salaries in Zimbabwe, inflation "that has crippled everyone", and political factors explain the flood south, Ncube said. "In the 2002 elections, the government accused especially rural teachers of encouraging communities to support the opposition MDC, and persecuted and punished these teachers, often depriving them of salaries."

In some Johannesburg inner-city private schools, 95% to 100% of staff are Zimbabwean, Ncube said. "We’re seeing good results there. Township communities are bringing their children to those schools - so they have already accepted us and have faith in us." He said he would welcome a formal meeting with the education department, at which he would supply data on teachers’ qualifications. One of those on Ncube’s list is Benjamin Ndlovu, a 37-year-old university graduate and qualified high school teacher of biology and geography. He came to South Africa in August last year, desperate to escape the Zimbabwean government’s "general neglect of teachers, who are often not paid", he told the M&G. "All I want is a job in a South African public school," he said, "where I know I can earn respect, because the South African government respects teachers, as well as a decent salary. We want recognition as human beings whose services will be applauded." Despite his qualifications, Ndlovu ekes out a living as a primary school teacher at a private institution in Johannesburg, earning a mere R1 700 per month. "And many of us Zimbabwean teachers here earn less than that."

Francine de Clerq, a lecturer in Wits University’s school of education, said Zimbabwean teacher qualifications are excellent. This is partly because of the foundation provided by the country’s school system, which is modelled on Britain’s. Zimbabwean teachers also have the advantage of excellent English, whereas "teachers from Cuba or India are often hardly understood by our learners". The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union media officer, Jon Lewis, said Sadtu has no objection in principle to the recruitment of foreign teachers to fill specific shortages. "Caveats are that we must first use any unemployed South African teachers; that local teachers be allowed to retrain in scarce areas; and that foreign teachers must have full professional status with conditions of service equal to those of South Africans."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Diamond in the Ruff

I was given a book yesterday and asked to read a little section that spoke on GlobalGiving. I knew a little about the organization from my time at ASAP, but this article gave me a brand new prospective. My mind began processing so many thoughts on non-profit organizations, but I kept coming back to this one question "Who really cares?"

GlobalGiving is one of those organizations that capture the beauty of non-profit. They have designed their work to help the donor and non-profit find a meeting ground and make change possible. The blueprint for this organization was made with sincerity and compassion and you can see it in all that they do. It’s comforting to know that some people really do care. If you would like to learn more visit


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Roots of a Dream

By Shannon Dunn
ASAP Africa Administrative Assistant
and Founder of R.E.D. Roots - Reaching Every Dream

Elizabeth Bara, Co-Founder of ASAP, recently received the Fall issue of the Portland State Magazine. It filled her with joy to see that her alma mata highlighted the work that she and her husband have been tirelessly pursuing in Zimbabwe since 1992.
The article brings to light the pure essence of what it means to have and believe in your dreams. Elizabeth was quoted as saying "I've always wanted to work toward positive change" and that is definitly what her life has been devoted towards. From changing lives in Africa to changing lives in America, Elizabeth is truly a model of leadership, determination, and hope.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


By: Memory Musabayana

Since 2004 Memory has been the Data Capture clerk for the Bridge The Gap (BTG) rural teacher training project ongoing in Zimbabwe. Although very familiar with the data and results the project is producing, recently she gained new insight and attended a BTG Innovative Teaching Techniques Workshop (ITTW). It was an eye opener for her and she submitted the following to share her experience.

"I was not aware that teaching is also a learning process, until I attended the Innovative Teaching Techniques Workshop (ITTW) at Rowa Training Centre in Mutare. The highly qualified proved that they were learned, but still needed to learn more from those with more experience.

During the past years the primary school teachers who were recruited for training, were trained irrespective of whether they had passed Mathematics. Most of the teachers did not have or had not passed Mathematics at Ordinary Level. This led to a decrease in the performance of mathematics both in primary schools and secondary schools.

Some important concepts in Mathematics are introduced at grade three level in primary schools. If the teacher is not good in Mathematics he/she will not be able to teach effectively the grade three students these new concepts. At the next level which is grade four, if the teacher is also not good enough the trend will continue until the student feels that it is better to drop Mathematics at ‘O’-Level.

The Zimbabwean Government has intervened through the MoESC. All teachers training at primary school level now have to have a pass in ‘O’ level Mathematics as a compulsory subject for recruitment.

At the ITTW teachers were surprised to learn that the teaching of Mathematics could be so inspiring when they were taught addition and subtraction through songs, multiplication can be done on one’s finger and learning direction through dance and songs. This was hilarious but informative.

A lecturer who was invited to facilitate, taught the teachers how to teach difficult subtraction to children using different methods. I realized that most teachers had a problem in this area as they were used to just one method. If students at grade three are introduced to a certain method and when at grade four their new teacher is not familiar with the method taught at grade three, he will teach a new method. If the pupil uses the method taught at grade three they will be marked wrong. This leads to a lot of confusion amongst pupils. Teachers should therefore learn all the concepts used in difficult subtraction."

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hands on Atlanta Day helps ASAP Africa’s Partners for Literacy Project

Twelve 10th graders from the Religious Education Center (REC) volunteered to help sort and box books for ASAP Africa as part of Hands on Atlanta Day on October 7th. The books had been donated by Fayette Co. residents as part of ASAP Africa’s Partner’s for Literacy Project with the Peachtree City, Fayette Daybreak and Fayetteville Rotary Clubs.

Over 5,000 books were sorted and boxed is less than four hours – more than half of those donated so far. After the hard work, each volunteer was given a ONE Campaign wristband and each one is now part of the campaign to make poverty history. Please read more about the ONE Campaign.

The book drive is continuing through October and ASAP looks forward to working together with Ismaili Center Community of REC and the Youth Engaged Services again in the future.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Regai Tsunga's Newest Accomplishment

ASAP is always excited to see people reaching their highest potential especially when they are one of our very own. We are proud to announce that Regai Tsunga ASAP's Program Manager recently submitted his thesis for his Masters degree in Educational Planning and Administration to Zimbabwe Open University. Regai's thesis was based on the sources of job stress and stress coping strategies in schools. He will soon receive his degree classification and transcript. Congratulations on your achievements Regai!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Kufusa Mari Sustainability Report

ASAP is implementing a new Kufusa Mari Internal Savings & Lending Project that is funded by The McKnight Foundation. The Savings and Lending program is a magnificent project that teaches the people of Zimbabwe financial skills that will be passed down for many generations to come. The skills obtained through participation in this project have proven to be life changing for most of its faithful participants.

The first Kufusa Mari Internal Savings & Lending Project began in October 2002 and ran through June 2004. This project was located in the rural Nyanga district of Zimbabwe (Nyanga East). Our second project ran from June 2004 through December 2005 in Nyanga West. The projects proved to be a great success and both are still active today even after ASAP's exit.

ASAP is proud to begin the new KM2 project. Our first activity was to conduct a sustainability report that provides critical information in ensuring the success of our newest endeavor. We are continually making strides towards "a world without poverty."

Click hereto veiew the report now.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

A Boost from the West

Over 9,800 people will benefit from the recent grant made to ASAP Africa by The West Foundation. The funds will support ASAP’s Village Savings and Lending Project in Nyanga area, which has been ongoing since 2004 called "Kufusa Mari".

The Kufusa Mari project is scheduled to run through December 2006, but with the record inflation ongoing throughout the year, some project activities to further strengthen income generating activities in the area had to be curtailed. According to Willie Dhlandhlara, ASAP’s Country Director in Zimbabwe, the project is now operating at full scale and field staff have the resources required to meet the needs of the rural savings clubs.

ASAP Africa is thankful for the generous support from The West Foundation, which will help us to use our skills to the best of our ability to help people in their efforts to improve their own lives in rural Zimbabwe today.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Surprise from Grace Church School

by Elizabeth Bara, ASAP Executive Director

Today ASAP Africa received a cookbook with a drawing of Chef Rover on the cover from the Grace Church School in New York. As a lover of both dogs and cookbooks, this really caught my eye. The letter included with the cookbook is attached.

“When last year’s 6th grade at Grace Church School voted on which organization would be the beneficiary of our class cookbook fundraising project, ASAP Africa came out the overwhelming favorite. Students and teachers contributed recipes that were meaningful to them and wrote short accompanying narratives detailing why they had chosen those dishes to share. The children illustrated every recipe, to entertaining and often humorous effect. The resulting publication was a delight and not only garnered monetary contributions to your cause, but brought the grade together as a team united in service of the global community. The children raised $1001 for your organization, a check for which we are happy to enclose in this letter.

We stand together in respect and admiration of all that you do and are thrilled to add the fruits of our labor to your efforts. Good luck on your continued mission.”

Every one of us at ASAP is honored that the 6th grade class has chosen our organization to receive the proceeds from this wonderfully creative fundraiser. We want to thank every student and faculty member and wish to express our sincere gratitude. We are also thankful that the Hudson Orbe’s Marinara Sauce is not actually radioactive! The cookbook is so delightful and the drawings are absolutely amazing. It is cherished – as is the generous contribution to our work!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Read All About It!

ASAP Africa's Autumn Newletter is now available. Click here to view now.

Friday, September 15, 2006


by Morris Matseketsa, ASAP Africa

I woke up in the morning
Open my eyes
And there’s the world
I look in the mist mirror
And I see it’s me

I hear the rain spattering outside my tiny room
I pondered for a moment
I dressed myself and bend over to pull on my unpolished pinch shoes
This is an ordinary beginning to another laborious and monotonous day
For a rural Zimbabwean child!

It’s almost time for my first lesson
How I wish it was a weekend
I ran to school on an empty stomach,
The heavy drops of rain spattering on the empty mealie meal bag covering my head
Utterly exhausted and drenched
I entered in a small, dimly lit room
Packed with more than 60 pupils
Emphatically I tried to suppress my noisy breath
I sat on a rugged metal chair
Everyone’s gaze is directed at me
I retrieved a semi drenched science notebook from my old satchel
What a normal start for a rural Zimbabwean child!

The teacher is busy arranging his tattered apparatus in front of the class
Then something unreeled and clattered on the potholed floor
What a day for a rural Zimbabwean child!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

ASAP Africa and CARE enter new partnership

ASAP Africa will be working as an implementing partner with CARE Zimbabwe on a new 18 month project. The Joint Initiative Consortium project is headed up by Mercy Corps. Other partners are Africare, Catholic Relief Services, Oxfam, Practical Aaction and Save the Children UK. ASAP's role in the project is to adapt the savings and lending methodology project concept, that has been proven to be very effective in rural settings, to the urban setting of Sakubva - a high density suburb of Mutare. The goal is the improve access to food, raise household income and help households better cope the impact of HIV and AIDS. Causemore Samanga will be taking a lead role in ASAP's project implementation.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

ASAP Africa and Rotary Launch Book Drive for International Literacy Day

Friday September 8th in International Literacy Day. Do you have gently used educational or inspirational books that could be appreciated -even cherished - by others less fortunate?

The Rotary Clubs of Peachtree City, Fayette Daybreak, Fayetteville, the Borrowdale Brooke Club in Harare and ASAP Africa are partnering on a Literacy Project that will begin with a Book Drive that will run through September 30th.

Your donated children’s educational books will benefit the over 41,000 students in 131 schools that ‘ASAP Africa’ ( currently works with in Zimbabwe. ASAP is a non profit organization based in Peachtree City that has been working to improve rural education and alleviate poverty in Zimbabwe since 1994.

According to Willie Dhlandhlara, ASAP’s Country Director in Zimbabwe, the most valued books will be primary school math and science textbooks (hardback or softback for grades K-12). English is the official language in Zimbabwe and all children’s books written in English will also be most appreciated. Shona is the local language but schools are taught in both English and Shona, so a good command of English early on is instrumental in academic success across the curriculum.

Project Literacy is also requesting inspirational and motivational paperback books (hardcovers cannot be accepted) which will be given to the Fayette County Jail to provide positive reading materials for local prisoners. Building on a program started by the 2006 Leadership Fayette Class, the goal of this program is to promote literacy with uplifting and motivational books to be made available to those prisoners being held at the Fayette County Jail facility.
The book drop-off points are:
The Peachtree City Library
Sandy Creek High School
Fayette County Chamber of Commerce
ASAP, Africa Office/Warehouse, 189 Fulton Ct. (off Huddleston)
Each of these locations will have a collection box for Project Literacy and welcomes your contribution and active participation to ensure this book drive is a success. Please donate only relevant educational (K-12 level) and inspirational/motivational books. Cookbooks, encyclopedias and magazines cannot be accepted.

Please mark your calendar to donate appropriate books to this project from
the 8th until the 30th of September. Your contribution will truly enrich the lives of others.
Thanks for your help!

Friday, September 01, 2006

From ASAP Africa Co-Founder Elizabeth Bara

Recently I was honored to be nominated for the Sargent Shriver Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service by a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. Although not the selected candidate, the letter sent out informing me of this decision was so inspirational that I wanted to share it. As World Citizens, this message pertains to each person that makes and effort, however small, to make the world a little better place.

It is from Paul Thompson, the 1989 recipient of the Sargent Shriver Award and one of the panelists this year.

Thank you for restoring my hope, for reminding me that dreams do come true, for inspiring me to recreate my own vision, and the humbling opportunity to review and reflect on the tremendous accomplishments that each of you and your communities have shared as part of this process.

You are clearly all winners of Humanitarian Service to the Planet, and the true joy and glory of your work is only as far away as the next smile of the village child, the next educated Mom or Dad who can now help their neighbor understand HIV more clearly, or the bicycle that works because of the repair shop down the road.

I wish all of you good health, long life and loving communities in which to share your passion and wisdom.

Terima Kaseh (thank you in the Mayaysian national language…literally translated “receive love”)

Paul Thompson

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Excerpt from the International Crisis Group

Zimbabwe: An Opposition Strategy
24 August 2006

"To avoid an explosion in Zimbabwe that could cost thousands of lives and shatter Southern Africa, the opposition may need to launch a risky strategy of nationwide, non-violent protest. The country is more polarised today than ever, and in many ways, prospects for change seem to be slipping further away. Political reform is blocked, and nearly every economic indicator is heading downward. The political opposition and civil society organisations have yet to tap effectively into the dissatisfaction based on declining living standards, but they could become the spark that finally sets Zimbabwe toward change."

To read more, go to

Monday, August 28, 2006

New Program Launch

On August 25th ASAP Africa was proud to welcome the acting Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr. Goran Engstrand (pictured here with Alpha Chapendama of SIDA and ASAP Country Director Willie Dhlandhlara) and the CARE Zimbabwe Country Director Mr. Steve Gwynne-Vaughan, to the launch of ASAP’s new village savings and lending project (VS&L) held at Nyamahumba Primary School.

Funded by The McKnight Foundation, the “Kufusa Mari Two” rural microfinance project will work to strengthen and expand ASAP’s existing savings-led microfinance program for rural women in Nyanga District in eastern Zimbabwe. The project will improve the income and self reliance of over 6,000 women over the next two years.

The McKnight Foundation also funded ASAP Africa’s first VS&L project in the same area from 2001-2003. The first activity of the newly funded project has been to conduct a sustainability survey, to assess exactly how many savings clubs that were active in 2003 continue to operate today. Preliminary findings are that 78% of the groups are still functioning after over two years. Considering the current hardships that people have been enduring in Zimbabwe since 2003 – this is a phenomenal result! The final sustainability report will be posted on the ASAP Africa web site next month.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Good Luck Stephanie

Today is an important day for Stephanie Marienau. After working as an intern for ASAP Africa this past summer, she returned to Vanderbilt on August 15th to embark on her senior year. Today – only three days later - she’s back in the Atlanta area to attend The Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarships Program interviews.
Yesterday I was privileged to be an invited guest at the Peachtree City Rotary Club and had the opportunity to meet District 6900 Governor and the local nominee for the Ambassadorial Scholarship. The quality of the candidates being considered is very high and the competition will be tough.
But with the help of Rotary International to channel the energy and enthusiasm of the youth of America today toward helping others – “A world without poverty” is truly an attainable goal.
Elizabeth Bara
ASAP Africa

Thursday, August 10, 2006

What's the Difference - just a Few Zeros

On August 1, 2006 Zimbabwe dropped 3 zeros from the currency (see following article). For banks and accountants, this was a great relief in these hyperinflation and rapid devaluation conditions. Accounting software would reflect a balance of “overflow” when the account contained as little as the equivalent of USD 1,000.

But dropping three zeros from the currency has no true meaning for most of us - we cannot understand what effect this really has on daily life. Here are some recent examples of the problems ASAP’s staff in Zimbabwe have encountered.

Regai Tsunga and Rose Makhamadze both live in Dangamvura, a suburb of Mutare. Previously they paid zwd 200,000 for transport to work in Mutare each morning. Now they pay only zwd 200. “With the old currency in circulation, I pay the conductor new zwd 500 and receive old $300,000 in change.” explains Rose. This seems like a pretty good deal to most!

But on August 21st the old notes (bearer cheques) are no longer legal tender. The government is on a campaign to flush out the old currency. “The inconvenience to the travelling public is unbearable as police have mounted 24 hour roadblocks in search of bearer cheques.” All vehicles are stopped and searched. Passengers on buses must disembark and this is causing many people to arrive late at their various work places.

Tsunga went on to share another story. “One lady by the name Jane, with whom we are doing the ICDL computer training course and who works for Western Union (money transfer org) yesterday told me that she got confused with the zeros that she mistakenly overpaid a client by $16,000,000.00 in a single transaction. At close of business the shortfall was discovered and she had to go through all processed documents for the day. She identified the transaction and took all relevant details pertaining to it (name of client, contact details, amount of forex tendered, etc). She then personally went to the residence of the client who denied ever receiving any extra cash during the transaction. The poor lady wept profusely and said she would not leave the client’s residence. It took the client’s wife to persuade her husband to own up and surrender the money, which he eventually did. Her confusion, she confessed, emanated from the zeros.”

On the whole, people are slowly adjusting but there really is still some confusion especially given that the new currency is still very scarce and that banks are, through both the teller machines and counters, still dispensing the old bearer cheques upon cash withdrawals.

Political humour is universal…it is rumoured that Finance Minister Gideon Gono has actually changed to a Chinese nationality – now going as Giden Gn after removing 3 zeros from his name!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Zimbabwe's Currency

Photo courtesy of BBC News

This week, the Zimbabwe Central Bank dropped three zeros from the country’s currency in an effort to fight inflation. Banks had been struggling to keep up with sums regularly in the trillions and often in the quadrillions. Individuals, too, had to cope with the highly devalued currency by carrying suitcases full of bills to make even small purchases.

The inflation has had a profound effect on Zimbabwe residents. Those who had lived comfortably are now struggling to meet even their most basic needs. Now is the time when ASAP Africa’s projects are more necessary than ever. By providing individuals and communities with skills, training, and knowledge, we are helping them to become self-sufficient no matter what is happening in the rest of the country.

As Causemore Samanga, a Kufusa Mari Senior Field Officer, reports, the Kufusa Mari project is even more important now because it teaches people how to pool their money and generate their own income with a self-funded micro-finance methodology. The project participants are inspirational in how they apply what they have learned and then innovate beyond their training to cope with the changing crisis in Zimbabwe.

For example, the Nyajezi cluster has responded to the growing economic crisis by going beyond their normal function and forming a cluster fund, which is headed by a cluster committee chairperson and a committee. The fund is made up of penalties from late comers and money left over at functions such as field days. The money is lent to clubs at 15% and the club lends it to its members at 20%, payable at the end of the month. The functions of the cluster fund are like the way the national reserve bank functions. In this way, the community is creating its own financial infrastructure, within the unstable Zimbabwe economy.

The clusters’ innovations are encouraging, but the national economy remains bleak. Please take a few minutes to read more about what is happening in Zimbabwe’s economy.

Interactive Graphic Demonstrating what a Zimbabwean Dollar will Buy
Zimbabwe eliminates 3 zeros from its Currency
Mass Confusion as Zimbabweans Exchange their Notes
More Confusion

-Causemore Samanga and Stephanie Marienau

Monday, July 31, 2006

Empowering Women

Traditionally in Zimbabwe, women had a very specific role. Men were trained for combat while women were conditioned from birth to acquiesce in male demands. To show the dominance of men in Zimbabwe a certain Reverand on a radio programme once said “A woman’s place is in the kitchen and should not make any decision without the express consent of the man”. This therefore placed the woman as a second-class citizen who should submit to men in all facets of her matrimonial life.

However, with the inception of ASAP’s program of Kufusa Mari in Nyanga District, things have changed drastically for women and their families. In polygamous families parents believe that whenever they run short of money to send their children to school they would rather ask the girl child to step-down then continue to educate the boy child because he is considered as the head of the family. However this scenario has been changed with the inception of Kufusa Mari. Women can now send the girl child to school through profits earned from their income generating activities (IGAs) with capital from loans borrowed from the Group Fund thereby improving the literacy rate of women in Nyanga and in Zimbabwe as a whole.

Kufusa Mari has also allowed women to buy cattle, considered a sign of wealth in our African culture.

Most husbands now regard their wives as equal partners in matrimonial home and society. Kufusa Mari has broken the societal perception that women should be submissive to men by virtue of them being breadwinners. However, women can now supplement their husband’s salaries and in certain circumstances support the whole family through money realized after using the loan to set up businesses.

Kufusa Mari is also complementing government efforts to economically empower women by arming them with knowledge to set up their business, effectively manage them, not to be over dependant on their husband’s salary and donor funds.

To sum up Kufusa Mari has bridged the gap which existed between women and men. The women’s position in a family and society is now greatly appreciated and esteemed in Nyanga. Women can now set up their business and advance themselves through Kufusa Mari.


Bridge the Gap Data Capture Clerk

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Great News!

ASAP Africa has been selected for the honorable mention in the GlobalGiving Open! Now, GlobalGiving has offered to double the donations of anyone who voted in the GlobalGiving Open until July 31st. So if you voted, now is the time to give for double the impact!

Check out our project on GlobalGiving's site!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Learning of Mathematics Important Even to Teachers

I was not aware that teaching is also a learning process, until I attended the Innovative Teaching Techniques Workshop at Rowa Training Centre in Mutare. The highly qualified teachers proved that they were educated, but still needed to learn some more from those with more experience.

During the past years the primary school teachers who were recruited for training, were trained irrespective of whether they had passed Mathematics or not. Most of the teachers had not passed Mathematics at Ordinary Level. This led to a decrease in the performance of mathematics both in primary schools and secondary schools.

Some important concepts in Mathematics are introduced at grade three level in primary schools. If the teacher is not good in Mathematics he/she will not be able to teach the grade three students these new concepts effectively. At the next level, which is grade four, if the teacher is also not good enough the trend will continue until the student feels that it is better to drop Mathematics at ‘O’-Level.

The Zimbabwean Government has intervened through the MoESC. All teachers training at primary school level now have to have a pass in ‘O’ level Mathematics as a compulsory subject for recruitment.

At the Innovative Teaching Techniques Workshop (ITTW) at Rowa Training Centre teachers were surprised to learn that the teaching of Mathematics could be so inspiring. They learned how to teach addition and subtraction through songs, multiplication using one’s finger and learning direction through dance. This was hilarious but informative.

A lecturer who was invited to facilitate, taught the teachers how to teach difficult subtraction to children using different methods. I realized that most teachers had a problem in this area as they were used to just one method. If students at grade three are introduced to a certain method and when at grade four their new teacher is not familiar with the method taught at grade three, he will teach a new method. If the pupil uses the method taught at grade three they will be marked wrong. This leads to a lot of confusion amongst pupils. Teachers should therefore learn all the concepts used in subtraction.

Through the Bridge the Gap project, teachers are learning how to better educate their students.

- Memory Musabayana
Bridge the Gap Data Capture Clerk

In the News...
How the Developed World is Helping Africa... and How It Can Do Better
The Importance of Jatropha Plants to Zimbabwe, and ASAP Africa's Jatropha Tree Planting Project
Update on the Zimbabwe Economy
How the Currency is Changing to Keep Up

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Success Story of Chimusasa Primary School

Mr. Makanyanga and his class from Manjanja Primary School, another school in the region, pause for a photo.

Chimusasa is in the remote part of Nyanga district called Katerere. It is a few kilometers away from the Zimbabwean boarder with Mozambique.

Males: 181
Females: 191
Staff Compliment: 7

Status of School:

The school is extremely poor, as nearly all the parents are not employed. Nearly all parents are peasant farmers. Some parents are illegal gold panners in the Gairezi River that forms the Zimbabwean boarder with Mozambique. Food is scarce in the area because of low rainfall caused by the low altitude. As a result most money realized by the parents is channeled towards food. The school is ill equipped as few parents can afford to spare money for fees. Textbooks are considered a luxury by the parents.

The remoteness of the school causes qualified teachers to shun the school. The school usually has an average of two qualified teachers at any given time. The rest will be unqualified teachers. Such teachers have contracts of 1 term only; hence the pupils are affected by a high turnover of teachers.

The Head of the school Mr. Nyamaropa has managed to run the school brilliantly, ensuring that students do well in Mathematics, his favorite subject. As a result he ensures that all teachers at the school participate in ASAP’s Bridge the Gap Project. The school staff participates in the cluster Mathematics workshops and ensures that pupils take part in BTG Maths competitions. The typed mathematics tests produced by the BTG project provide the only time when pupils are exposed to typed examinations. The school takes these seriously. Mr. Nyamaropa says the BTG project has taken Mathematics to greater heights at the school.

In 2005 Grade 7 final examinations the school had a Mathematics pass rate of 64.5% (compare this with district pass rate of 40.5 %) and was the top school in the ranking of Math pass rates in Katerere area of Nyanga District.

The school has potential to perform even much better if provided with relevant resources such as textbooks especially with the guidance of Mr. Nyamaropa. Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture officials have acknowledged that Chimusasa Primary School has become a model school in the teaching and learning of Mathematics in Nyanga District.

-Collins Mutsvairo
Bridge the Gap Project Manager

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Novelty of the Bridge the Gap Project

When I first heard about Bridge The Gap, I wondered what it was all about. When our school established its School Math Club, I thought it was just another club to while our time during the boring afternoon activities. Today I now understand what they mean in BTG and School Math Club.

In BTG we do interesting activities including competitions. Most of the things we do are what we learn in class. In the past Math used to be a subject that gave me a lot of problems. I used to struggle finding the answer. At times I could not finish the given work. I was just too slow. In our school Maths Club we learn to add, subtract, divide and multiply, and think mathematically.

The quiz competitions help me think very fast and solve Math problems in a very short time. I am now among the first students to finish the work we are given in class. I have learned to write very fast, neatly and accurately like what we do in our school Math club. I now enjoy learning Math. I want to be a mathematician.

Written By:
A Form One Pupil
Crossdale Secondary

Compiled By:
D. Fombe
Bridge the Gap Cluster Coordinator

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Take Charge of Your Life with Kufusa Mari

Kufusa Mari participants often raise livestock for nutrition and income generation.

“When ASAP Kufusa Mari finally arrived in Nyanga West, it was like a long awaited day had finally come”, said Martin Matimanga from Village 7A Nyarumvurwe. He is amongst the first clients to join the RSCP at Ruware cluster in June 2004 and has defied all odds in his endeavors to running a project of his dreams. The group comprises seven members, 3 couples and a widow. Others, too, are doing well in their respective projects.

Matimanga who borrowed $500,000,00 in September 2004 managed to trade and had a reasonable profit. By the end of the month he managed to order chicks (broilers) and repaired his water tank, which supplied water to his garden. He also extended his garden and could feed his garden from manure from the chicken run. In no time he was supplying his chicks to local hotels around Nyanga.

With profit coming he managed to buy a boar and soar pigs. He also added some pipes to his garden project and increased the area of crops under irrigation. Luck was on his side as the soar gave birth to eight piglets. The chicks and pigs need some stock feeds and they are very expensive.

To my surprise the projects need less working costs when started. Profits after selling some of his produce are used to buy chicken feeds. Chicken droppings are then used to feed the pigs, the dung from the pigs is then used in the garden and the vegetables and grain from the garden also goes to the pigs and the chickens.

Each of us has the capacity to transform his or her life by choosing not to think or behave like a victim. I have come to the conclusion that our attitude to life determines the path our lives will take.

-Lovemore Manjoro, Field Officer

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Our Country Director Willie Dhlandhlara returned from CARE International’s Regional Lessons Learnt Workshop on Rural Microfinance. There he presented on how to use the cluster groups formed for savings clubs, as the base for other projects. ASAP uses to cluster groups to spread vital knowledge about health and nutrition, including training about HIV/AIDS with our HANDEI project (Health and Nutrition Development Initiative).

Willie's presentation was very well received and offered Willie the opportunity to meet many of his peers who also work for development in Southern Africa. All in all, the workshop was a great success!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Ideas from ASAP

a poem by Kudzanai Jacquline Makanyanga,Grade 7

Surely the ASAP came with as better idea
Of how to improve people’s standards of living

People had tried different means
But they did not succeed
At last you ASAP came with new
Bright ideas of how to improve their lives

Now people has less problems
Of getting money
So we all say keep it up your spirit of helping people

People now have ideas on how to save, develop
And to improve their health
You gave them very bright ideas
Of staying health and rich.

People now know they can help themselves
They no longer have a dependence syndrome
They can work, think, save and live much better than before

Read Bono's take on how Western nations are doing on keeping their promises to Africa.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Test of Courage

The Kufusa Mari savings club project has been going on for a number of years and each time a group of women in the project ‘graduate’ a big field day is held to both celebrate their success and also try to recruit more members. At a couple of field days attended by myself and Elizabeth Bara, I was asked to say a few words. Rather than the usual “You are all on your way to success.” type speech, I decided to say it in the way of a story about Siphiwe.

Siphiwe grew up as a poor girl in a small rural family. Her parents worked hard as subsistence farmers and occasional gold panners. By the time she was 12, she was an orphan due to the HIV AIDS pandemic. She was the oldest, taking care of her siblings and having a hard life. Her only thing of value was the house she still lived in which her parents had built when they were alive. The house had two rooms. One was a large room where they slept and cooked and ate. The other room was unknown. Siphiwe’s parents had told her to never open that door or something awful would happen. So Siphiwe never did and when they died she never thought to ask about that room.

Siphiwe lived a difficult life with constant illness and hunger and yet throughout her life she was always afraid to open that door. It was the fear that something bad may happen. She was always afraid to take that chance.

When Siphiwe got to be old and finally passed on, she was so happy to be finally free of all the pain of life on earth and she was so excited to be going to heaven. She soon met her guardian angel who informed her that there was one thing that she must do before she can move on to heaven. Siphiwe, very puzzled, asked what that could be. Her angel said, “Siphiwe I want you to open that door in your house. You know the one that you always feared.”

Siphiwe suddenly was frozen with fear. “I cannot open that door. Something bad will happen to me!”

“Come on Siphiwe, you’re already dead. What could possibly happen?” the angel encouraged. The angel spent about 10 more minutes trying to convince her to open that door. Finally she agreed but was still very hesitant and frightened. So Siphiwe carefully grabbed the knob, turned it and ever so slowly, pulled the door open.

Suddenly she could not believe her eyes. The small room had cooking pots, plates, pans, utensils, blankets, and a large container of gold. It seems her parents had saved all of this for the children and wanted to protect it. Unfortunately, they failed to tell Siphiwe the truth before they died. Siphiwe began to cry. “If only I had a little more courage and had taken the chance of opening that door, my whole life would have been different!”

Now gesturing to the crowd of women who have already began their success by joining the Kufusa Mari savings club project, I would say, “Sometimes it takes courage to try something new because there will always be people around you saying bad things about it. But by joining Kufusa Mari, you have all shown that you are prepared to take that chance to be successful. Yes, all of you have already opened that door! And I wish you all continued success.”

-Tom, Co-founder and Board President

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Way to Help

This is a unique opportunity for ASAP to become a part of GlobalGiving and earn a $5,000 donation! Please take a moment to visit their site and vote for ASAP!

The name of our project is "Rural Family Nutrition Initiative in Zimbabwe" and it has a picture of a woman with a drip kit. The woman in the picture is now able to grow vegetables for her children, protecting them from malnutrition and helping the family become self-sufficent.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

ASAP Innovation

Our own Willie Dhlandhlara, ASAP Country Director, has been invited to be a speaker at CARE International’s Regional Lessons Learnt Workshop on Rural Microfinance in Victoria Falls this week! Willie will present on enhancing the capacity of rural microfinance projects to mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS and improve household capacity to care for orphans and the chronically ill. The invitation serves as a much-deserved honor for the whole staff, who have been working tirelessly to provide long-term solutions that will prepare communities to begin meeting their own needs.

ASAP’s successful Kufusa Mari rural savings club project was developed based on CARE’s Village Savings and Lending methodology, beginning a valuable partnership between the two organizations. Since its launch, Kufusa Mari has helped thousands to meet their own basic needs and take a first step out of poverty by teaching them how to work together to pool their resources. This method is revolutionary, because it puts the power back in the hands of the participants and provides a self-sustaining way for participants to meet their own needs instead of relying on outside donors.

ASAP’s staff members have taken the success of the rural savings clubs even further, by using the existing cluster groups for the dissemination of health information. The leaders of each cluster group are trained in HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention strategies. They then share what they have learned with the other participants in their cluster. From there, the knowledge spreads through the community.

Willie will be presenting on this new innovation at the conference this week, helping other organizations working in southern Africa to better educate their participants about HIV/AIDS.

Friday, June 30, 2006


ASAP is pleased to announce that staff member Farai Pegara's wife has given birth to a healthy baby boy! The baby has been named Kelvin Farai Pegara.

May Kelvin grow to see a better Zimbabwe than we do now.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Life that Changed

A poem from Field Officer Paul Mundete

We were leading shameful lives,
Lives full of frustrations,
We had lost all hope,
Living from hand to mouth,
We always wondered,
What tomorrow would bring forth.

ASAP came to our reserve,
Gave us hope,
Bright ideas,
At first, we were afraid,
What fear! Fear of the unknown,
ASAP answered our prayers,
Gave us confidence,
The sense of ownership,
Restored our lost pride,

Thank you ASAP,
Carry on with that work,
That of uplifting people’s lives,
Rescuing us from shameful hands of poverty,
ASAP, We salute you.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Donating and Dependency

“International development is complex: it overflows with good intentions but often fails to produce positive results. In Uganda, foreign grants account for 33 percent of the 2003–2004 government budget. However, when I arrived in Uganda in June 2003, the headlines of The NewVision, Uganda’s largest daily newspaper, read: “Aid Has Failed to Develop Africa.”1 Weekly editorials and opinion letters criticized the spending of foreign aid dollars. Fr. Michael Corcoran of the Mill Hill Missionaries in East Africa advocated self-reliance, saying “you Africans must be the primary experts of your development because you know your values and aspirations.”2 Gordon Opiyo, a writer for Kenya’s Standard, expressed concern over aid dependency in his 13 July article entitled “Has the Government Thought of the Pitfalls of Aid?” Most Ugandans agree that foreign aid is necessary, but they worry about continued dependence and the debt their children will have to pay.”

The True Agents of Change in Africa
Eric Pohlman, Georgetown University

This article reflects my own thoughts on the complex relationship between international aid and dependency. It is difficult to see so many needs in Africa and around the world and to know how to address them in ways that will be sustainable and helpful in the long-run. If I were confronted with people who were hungry, I would reach for the clearest and most immediate solution: give them food. Food aid is necessary in some situations, but it often reinforces the idea that these individuals cannot solve their problems without outside help. I’m learning that any emergency aid must be coupled with long term training to help the beneficiaries learn how to meet their own needs.

That’s what I love about working for ASAP. All of ASAP’s projects are focused on empowering people to improve their own lives. Communities come together to identify and prioritize their needs and brainstorm ways to address them. Then, ASAP helps with support and training. In this way, the participants take ownership of the projects and learn valuable skills that they can use long after the project has ended. A perfect example of this approach is the Kufusa Mari project. You can read more about it here.

Foreign aid is necessary for developing countries like Zimbabwe. Still, governments, international aid organizations, and private donors must be careful to ensure their efforts are empowering the beneficiaries and not forcing them into greater dependence. Comment to share your thoughts!


Friday, June 23, 2006

In the News

Here are two news sources that are worth checking out.

BBC offers a section of personal stories from Zimbabwe that put a face on the statistics.

NPR has a series of in-depth audio reports on the situation in Zimbabwe.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Give us this day our daily bread...

Regai Tsunga, ASAP’s Program Manager, offers his observations on the rampant inflation in Zimbabwe, which has now surpassed 1200%.

A standard loaf of bread now costs Z$150,000.00 up from Z$120,000.00 last month!! I can confirm that the same loaf cost Z$85,000.00 (April), Z$60,000.00 (March), Z$45,000.00 (February) and Z$30,000 in January. It's ridiculous to say the least. Bread has now become more of a luxury than a basic need for most Zimbabweans as one would need at least Z$4,500,000.00 a month for a loaf of bread each day.

You may also be interested to know that a kilogram of economy beef now costs $702,000.00 whereas it cost $200,000 in January. A trip by public transport to the city centre from the residential areas now ranges between $50,000.00 and $100,000.00 dollars.

Indications are that the prices are destined to rise significantly now that the price of gas (petrol and diesel) has just shot up from $200,000.00 to between $400,000.00 and $600,000.00 a litre.

Shocking numbers indeed. I guess the printing press at the central bank is on 24hours a day. Our highest denomination is a $100,000.00 bill-not enough for a loaf of bread. You ask how anyone is able to afford to eat? Simple - skip meals. Here, people may opt for what they call 011 or 101 or 001. The three digits per set represent Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. In the case of 011, the person skips breakfast. The 0 represents a skipped meal. Sadly of course not too many people now have decent meals as incomes continue to be eroded by inflation. We remain optimistic.


Bad to Worse

Time magazine examines the link between inflation, poverty, malnutrition and AIDS.
Zimbabwe's Prices Rise 900%, Turning Staples Into Luxuries
The New York Times observes that with current prices in Zimbabwe, dollar bills may have a better use than buying toilet paper…

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Just the facts

Here are some statistics that have stuck out to me in my research on Zimbabwe. The needs are truly overwhelming.

Population: 12,236,805
Life expectancy at birth: 37.2 yrs
Median age: 19.9 years

Percentage of adults living with HIV/AIDS: 20.1%
Estimated number of people infected per day: 565
Orphans due to AIDS: 1,100,000

GNI per capita in US dollars: $480
GDP growth (annual %): -4.2%
Unemployment rate: 80%
Population below poverty line: 80%
Percentage of population below $1 a day: 56%

Check out these links for more in-depth information on this country in crisis.
HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe
A Family of Orphans

Thanks to World Bank, UNICEF, CIA World Factbook, and for providing the statistics.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Africa Day

Today as I was trying to organize my hopelessly cluttered picture files, I came across one photo that reminded me of what non-profit fundraising should look like. This picture, taken on May 25 at ASAP’s Africa Day fundraising dinner shows Will Pesante presenting a very large check to one very surprised executive director, Elizabeth Bara. After hearing Mrs. Bara speak at their school about the overwhelming needs in southern Africa, Will and his classmates from Sandy Creek High School were moved to action. They held several fundraisers including a car wash and managed to raise almost $1,000!

Their fundraising efforts came at an incredibly busy time in their lives when they were preparing for finals and graduation. Though it would have been easy to say that other people who were older, had more money, or didn’t have to take finals could do more, the students decided to do what they could to help people they had never met. At a time when skepticism and criticism over non-profit fundraising is growing, the students of Sandy Creek High School demonstrated what charitable giving should look like: unselfish service. It makes me wonder, “What could I do if I stopped thinking about me?”


Want to know who's writing these posts? Go here.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sharing Knowledge

Here, a Kufusa Mari savings club participant shares the knowledge that has helped her break the cycle of poverty in her life. Similarly, we want to use this blog to share what we are learning with whoever takes a moment to listen. Continue the conversation by commenting or emailing us.

You can see more pictures of the Kufusa Mari project here.

Welcome to ASAP Africa's NewsBlog!

ASAP Africa is a small non-profit organization that works for sustainable development in Southern Africa. We focus on helping communities to become self-reliant by sharing knowledge through rural savings clubs, support for education, health and nutrition training, and agricultural improvements. Our work is sometimes challenging, but always exciting!

We hope to use this blog to give voices to ASAP's staff in both Africa and the United States. Here, we will share their thoughts on everything from life in a third world country to the challenges of fundraising to the joys of development work.

Check back soon!