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.