Thursday, January 24, 2008

ASAP works with Ministry of Education and Other NGOs to Improve Education

On January 23 ASAP’s Zimbabwe Country Director, Regai Tsunga attended the Ministry of Education workshop on the Ministry's Key Result Areas, goals and objectives as well as to create some interaction between MOE and its’ education partners.

Here Regai is pictured with Dr .Stephen Mahere, the Permanent Secretary in the MOE – who attended all sessions. Being a Mathematician himself, Dr. Mahere was pleased to hear more about the positive results being achieved through ASAP’s Bridge The Gap (BTG) project - that aims to improve teaching and learning of mathematics – a very challenging subject worldwide. Below, Collins Mutsvairo, BTG Project Manager introduces himself and discusses the project.

With many NGOs in attendance, a decision was taken to develop a database of education projects and initiatives in order to reduce duplication of partner effort as well as to identify areas of need.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"I Have A Dream"

by Martin Luther King, Jr,

Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. Source: Martin Luther King, Jr: The Peaceful Warrior, Pocket Books, NY 1968

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.

One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights.

The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. we must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" we can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Saturday, January 12, 2008

ASAP begins year 2008 with expansion

by Turai Mandiambira
The year 2008 started with a wave of happiness as the organization expands its programming. The Bridge the Gap is expanding to cover Mutasa North, including most of the Honde Valley area, with effect from January 2008 whilst prospects are that there will be capacity building of other organizations in the implementation of the project. The Mutasa District will also benefit from new funding for the Health and Nutrition Development Initiative, to strengthen rural families to care for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

On another note there is the birth of Income Generating Activities project in Nyanga North, a project funded by Concern World Wide, where ASAP will be working in joint venture with CWW, Family AIDS Care Trust and Mission Hospitals in Nyanga area.

Due to this expansion two new data capture clerks have been hired namely; Future Nyamupinga and Sarudzai Kurehwatira.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Zimbabwe experience by André Carrel

Comment from The Nelson Daily News (Canada), 21 December

People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage - John Kenneth Galbraith

On our way to the Eastern Highlands in the morning after my arrival in Zimbabwe, we stopped at the general store in a small town south of Harare. My friend had delivered a few crates of produce from his garden on his way to the airport the day before, and he wanted to pick up the empties. A queue, mostly women, many with babies on their backs, had formed in front of the store. I did not pay much attention to the queue; I wanted to see the store’s empty shelves, empty coolers, and empty freezers. My inspection was interrupted by the sudden sound of yelling and screaming coming from outside. I went to see what the commotion was all about. The women in the queue were visibly upset about something. The yelling grew louder and the gesticulating more agitated when a man wielding a bull whip appeared. A few well-aimed lashes into the throng of protesting women restored order and silence in the queue. I had never seen anything like it! As the women were being bullwhipped, a uniformed police officer walked by clutching two loaves of bread under his arm. He walked past the scene as if the mini-riot and bullwhipping of women and their babies was of no concern to him. The scene was surreal. Shortly afterwards my friend returned with his empty crates. As we stashed them in the pickup, he pointed to two loaves of bread hidden in one of the crates. "That’s all I could get," he said, half apologetically.

As we drove away, I asked him what the commotion had been all about. The women had learned that there would be bread in the store, and they had been queuing since before 6:00 a.m. There was no bread on the shelves; the bread was "walking" out the back door. "It’s how the black market works," my friend explained. The commotion was triggered when one of the women discovered what was happening with the bread. Several days later, sitting at the breakfast table eating the last of the bread and not knowing if there would be bread tomorrow or where it would come from, I reflected on what I had witnessed. The bread I had been eating for the past few days should have been eaten by a child. The only reason that bread had ended up on my table was that I had connections and money. I have read reports about the disproportionate share of the world’s resources consumed by the developed world. I have heard arguments that one world is not enough to support 6.6 billion people in the style to which the wealthiest 2 billion are accustomed. There are not enough of all the things the developed world takes for granted to allow everybody on earth to consume resources at the pace and rate of the wealthiest 2 billion. As I sat in relative comfort in the midst of Zimbabwe’s misery, I understood the bullwhipping of the women and their babies that I had witnessed as the embodiment of the global reality of the disparity in resource consumption. I talked to my friend about this disparity and about my feelings of guilt for having eaten the bread. He tried to console me: "You have to be practical about such things."

Our First World lifestyle is sustained by millions and millions of people in Africa and Asia who work for peanuts, literally, and sometimes for much less than peanuts. I spent a month living in the home of people who work hard for long hours and are paid not just less than $1 per day, but much less than $1 per day. I am a bit over-weight, but I did not lose one pound during my month in Zimbabwe because I had money in my pocket, hard currency, and friends with connections to convert my hard currency into food, fuel, and other necessities to which I am accustomed. As a member of the First World, I am at the front of the queue; I get what I want; I consume what I want, and if "they" get unruly, somebody will whip them back into line. I don’t have to lift a finger; I can simply drive away. It is not my responsibility. My position in life allows me to be practical about such things. How do I live with the image of hungry women and babies being bullwhipped? Can I assuage my feelings of guilt by looking the other way? What is the humanitarian response? Selling everything I own and giving it to them would ease their plight for a moment, but it would not change the harshness of life under Mugabe-style regimes. If I want to make a change to the lives of people living under intolerable conditions, I have to start here - at home, in my town, in my province, and in my country - and work to change the focus of our political ethics from "me" to "us."

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

ASAP says farewell to Rose Makhamadze

ASAP staff had the year 2007 end with a double celebration. It was a nice time for the organization when they had the 2007 end of year party on the 14th of December while anticipating the most waited for day when Rosemary Makahamadze tied the with Clifford Nyamutsambira on the 29th December. Rosemary has left for Botswana to stay with her husband after her resignation. ASAP staff wishes Rose the best in her marriage and new endeavors.

Please read more about ASAP in our Winter Newlsetter

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year = New Currency in Zimbabwe

All Zimbabweans know that each day brings new challenges and survival is a test of both will and wit. The end of the year was particularly so, when the currency (the Zimbabwe Dollar) was recalled. This description was sent to us on New Year's Eve from a dear friend - Jenni Westlake.

All $200,000 (our largest denomination) notes have been recalled by the Reserve bank by the 31st and we are VERY slowly being issued with 250,000, 500,000 and 750,000 dollar notes…..and we have minimal inflation!!!!!! The banks were told to be open all weekend from 8.30am - 6.00pm and all public holidays to help ease the cash crisis but nothing has helped and there are still people sleeping in the pouring rain trying to get some cash out of the banks. I have been trying since the 15th to get some new money and have not yet had a note!

All this seems to have done is double the price of everything out there….bread is now 1 million dollars a loaf.

Happy New Year to all our friends in Zimbabwe.