Lorraine’s visit to the Chivi community: "one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done"

By Lorraine Collins, Zimbabwe Child Sponsor

The anticipation of the day was growing as the planning for my travel, accommodation and organisation details were worked out. I travelled for two hours after flying into Bulawayo and then for another hour to get to the community. I was super excited when we discussed gifts I could bring and it was suggested that I in fact could support the local economy and make some purchases there.

My visit was an occasion for all and we were accompanied by local dignitaries and significant community members along with World Vision staff.

The remoteness of this community was something to behold in terms of the landscape and the dryness and limited nature of the vegetation. The temperatures were lovely and warm in the day time but cooler at night.

I arrived and felt overwhelmed emotionally because not only the extended family were there but many members of the Chivi community. The welcome singing and dancing was beautiful to watch.

After shaking hands with everyone the formal proceedings began with speeches. Those coming from Ethel's family were so heartfelt I found myself crying for sheer joy. The joy of having my dream come true but also the joy of seeing this community benefiting so much from the supporters of World Vision and each senior member of the community openly expressing that gratitude was wonderful. For me so little had achieved so much.

My sponsored child Ethel is a beautiful woman now who is keen to continue her schooling and has aspirations to be a policewomen. She and I were able to converse in English and both felt a strong and special bond. Neither of us thought 12 years ago that this day would ever come to pass but here we were both joyful and pleased that what seemed impossible was possible.

I was honoured to join the community in a meal cooked on the open fires. Through the help of World Vision translators I sat on the ground with community members and talked as one would with friends. I learnt about their daily routines and the demands of their lifestyle. Ethel has walked 10 kms to and from the nearest secondary school each day. They are subsistence farmers growing their own crops for their needs.

I saw first-hand how money is spent in the community with the supply and installation of solar pumps to pump water into tanks that then are accessed through a tap in the community. People then take their donkey carts with the large water containers and fill them easily. This reduces the need for women to walk miles balancing water containers on their heads.

I saw the improved sanitation procedures with toilets installed near every home and channels dug to enable water to irrigate much needed crops. The education of children especially girls was a foremost priority and all efforts were being made to raise awareness in the communities and ensure education was available and accessed by all through the provision of schools, enabling access through fee support and finding and implementing successful ways to overcome previous barriers to the engagement of girls in education.

I danced with the community and soaked up the whole experience with a joy that cannot be put into words. I purchased two goats and groceries locally and presented an embroidered blanket in memory of my visit. It was difficult to leave but I know that the small donation each month I have made is being maximised through World Vision to truly change the lives of others for the better. I felt so honoured to be encouraged to visit and am humbled by the welcome and pure joy that was expressed by all. It is one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done and it will live in my memory forever.

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