Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kufusa Mari Project Launched in Mutasa District

By Regai Tsunga
Tuesday was a day of celebration in the Mutasa District of Eastern Zimbabwe, as the ASAP Africa Zimbabwe team finally launched the ISL project. Over ninety women and children were presented with certificates recognizing their achievement and proficiency in managing internal savings and lending activities.The launch came almost one year after the signing of the project agreement by Plan International and ASAP. During the three-year project partnership ASAP will improve the household security and income for over 2000 individuals mostly women and children through providing training in the internal savings and lending methodology. This delay was caused by the unilateral ban of NGO operations by the Government of Zimbabwe in 2008 following the disputed “harmonized” national elections. The ban was only lifted in September 2008 at which time programming also resumed. The day was marked with testimonies by Kufusa Mari participants showcasing products, demonstrating how the project was making a difference in their lives through the use of drama, and encouraging others to participate. Mrs. Portia Chitendeni explains: ”We are three in our club and in October last year we borrowed zwd 90,000 from the project. If was not easy because we were grappling with inflation, but we managed to buy 6 kgs of sugar that we exchanged with three buckets of maize. We sold them at 600 Rand and we changed 50 rands for us to return the zwd 90,000 we had borrowed. We sent someone o South Africa to buy some blankets and from there up to date we are buying and selling property. We never lack anything to eat or school fees for our children and our husbands are really supportive of this project. Kufusa Mari Project has really changed our lives.” Pictured here, Headman Sanyamandwe addresses the crowd that gathered at Pafiwa School for the celebration. Government officials from various ministries were present in support of the launch and these included officers from the Ministries of Women Affairs, Education, Local Government, Youth, Agriculture, Social Welfare and Health. ASAP' Country Director, Regai Tsunga (purple tie) hosted the Program Support Manager from Plan International, Dr Batholomew Mupeta and a team of other Plan staff that included the Resource Mobilization Manager, Mr Makoni and the Mutasa Program Unit Manager, Mr Stanley Dawa. Dr Mupeta expressed profound satisfaction at the progress the project was making and looked forward to increased cooperation between his organization and ASAP. He encouraged the Mutasa community to participate in this community managed micro finance project and improve the quality of their lives. Mr. Tsunga recognized the hard work and achievement of ASAP's Kufusa Mari field team, a group of talented professionals headed up by Joseph Miti (on the right) in Zimbabwe, as they enjoy the day and participate in the celebrations. Tsunga also expressed joy that the project was progressing well despite the previous challenges relating to the NGO ban, political polarization, restrictive and counterproductive national monetary policies and the hyper-inflation. He said the use of multiple currencies notably the USD and Rand following the suspension of Zimbabwe dollar as official tender will result in enhanced project impact.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Big Read

Next week, April 20-26, is Global Action Week. The Global Campaign for Education is asksing individuals and communities to read a story and sign a petition on behalf of the millions of people worldwide who cannot read or go to school. On June 16, the Big Read book and collection of petition signatures will be delivered to President Obama. Click here to go to The Big Read to learn more about joining this effort.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

ASAP’s BTG Project Contributes to Ministry of Education 100 DAY TARGET

by Regai Tsunga
In Zimbabwe the Ministry of Education, under the new inclusive unity government, has identified provision of text books as a top priority. A 100 day target has been set to reduce the student to text book ration to 1:3 to allow for meaningful use by pupils. For some schools, the textbook to pupil ratio had gone up to 1:40. In such a situation the children sit in threes with the one at the center having the book directly in front while the other two flank the child at the center and read from either side.ASAP is happy to be contributing to this target again this year through the Bridge the Gap Math teacher training project, which is already making a difference at Grade 7 level by providing Math revision materials for pupils in 2009. Previously, through a Rotary sponsored a literacy book drive, by working together, the Peachtree City Rotary Club, along with the Fayette Daybreak, Fayetteville & Borrowdale Brooke (Harare) Rotary Clubs, ASAP was able to provide two 20 foot shipping containers of gently used reading and text books to improve the situation in the BTG schools.

ASAP was honored by a recent visit by the Provincial Education Director for Manicaland, Mr. Peter Muzawazi. During discussions, he informed ASAP’s Bridge the Gap Project Manager, Collins Mutsvairo (center), of the new initiative.From a textbook survey conducted by the Ministry in the province, the text book situation in most schools had deteriorated to unprecedented proportions. After the teacher, the textbook is regarded as the next most important and indispensable resource for effective teaching and learning.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Small World Indeed

Tom Arsenault, ASAP's President, enjoyed sharing information about ASAP's program last week-end on a spectacularly beautiful spring day on the riverfront in Savannah GA.

Michelle Riley, from the Freeplay Foundation happened to stop by ASAP's information booth. Michelle is the only US staff member of this Foundation, which is based in South Africa and the UK. ASAP provided Freeplay's hand cranked radios to rural schools in Zimbabwe for years. The majority of rural schools where ASAP works do not have electricity, so with Freeplay radios, schools could access educational programming as well as short wave broadcasts which were not subject to government controls.

There are no coincidences and we look forward to building on the synergy between Freeplay and ASAP as we work to improve the daily lives of the rural poor in Africa.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Savings Brings Smiles

By Regai Tsunga
It is once again all smiles as these ladies from Sherukuru Village in Mutasa go through their routine savings and lending Session. These pictures, taken by Collins Mutsvairo today, show that saving in USD has brought much joy and relief to ASAP’s VSL groups. The value of savings is now guaranteed and the prospects for handsome returns on their investments are huge. Click here to read more about ASAP's VSL project.
Having seen all their savings in Zimbabwe dollars eroded and made worthless manure by the rampaging inflation, it was all gloom and doom for the otherwise enterprising rural women. The dollarisation of the Zimbabwe economy has resulted in the virtual condemnation of the local currency as all goods and services are now sold in the stable USD, South African Rand and the Botswana Pula.

ASAP Field Officers continue to maintain high visibility within the communities to instill confidence given the previous recent negative experiences with the Zimbabwe Dollar.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

ASAP Africa Spring Newsletter

We are delighted to share our spring newsletter with you today.
Click here to learn about all the new activities going on at ASAP in Malawi and Zimbabwe.

We welcome your questions & comments and appreciate your interest & support.