Monday, August 06, 2007

Meet ASAP's New Country Director, Regai Tsunga

“The past is our inheritance, the present is our reality, and the future is our challenge.” A sign bearing this quote and the names of several Kufusa Mari Savings Clubs hangs in the corner of Regai Tsunga’s office. He keeps the sign as a reminder of the community’s hopes for positive change in the future. As ASAP’s Country Director, Regai frequently has the opportunity to meet and talk with those who are directly benefiting from ASAP’s projects. He is eager to share stories of the joy and success he has witnessed.

“One woman shared that she had not eaten meat for several years, but once she participated in the KM project she was able to buy beef. Imagine! Everyone in the family celebrated the consumption of beef! Having decent meals should be something so ordinary, but it was something they had only imagined in the past,” Regai relates empathetically. Other women involved in the project used the money to meet basic needs, earning enough to pay for school fees, farming implements, or even shelter. For Regai, these stories are sustaining; “In this organization results matter a lot, so you are really focused in everything that you do. It’s a big inspiration to see the results of your efforts. No wonder we put in so many extra hours!”

Regai is himself a native Zimbabwean and is no stranger to the problems currently facing his country. As both someone working to alleviate suffering and someone who is experiencing the same problems as the rest of his neighbors, Regai has evident motivation to make ASAP’s programs successful. Regai and his wife Jane have three children. Their commitment to their children’s future happiness is clear, “We must ensure that we leave something for our children for which they can thank us. I feel that the children deserve much better. I can’t remember the last time I bought a pair of shoes for my own children. I would love to save for my children’s futures, but I can’t save money because inflation is eroding its value too quickly. I had saved something like 80,000 in the early eighties and used it to buy a house, but if I had continued to save that amount until today, I would be able to buy only a kilogram of beef. In effect, we are working only for today- nothing for our kids, nothing for our future. This is a very great concern.”

In the midst of such difficult issues, Regai celebrates the progress ASAP Africa is making and the sustainability of the projects. Regai explains, “The goal is for the community to perpetuate the project after ASAP’s exit. In the case of Kufusa Mari, we train cluster facilitators who are resident in the community with the internal savings and loan methodology. Long after we leave, the cluster facilitator is there to train her community. Eighty-five percent of the groups formed in 2003 were still functioning in 2005— two years after we had left! In fact, those groups had trained second and even third generation groups. That’s the beauty of our projects; the community is involved through and through and becomes empowered.”

When asked how ordinary Americans could help Zimbabwe, Regai responded, “Ordinary Americans should know that we are also only ordinary Zimbabweans. Here at ASAP, we are trying to alleviate suffering of ordinary people and need any help anyone can provide, whether prayer, words of encouragement, or donations. All our interventions uplift the standard of life for ordinary people. They are already making an effort to help themselves, we just provide the resources they need to do it.”

No comments: