This week was our first practical gardening workshop in the youth clubs, our first workshops in schools and also our first team attempt at making sadza (Zimbabwe's staple food).

One of our team objectives is to establish 90 low input gardens in our cycle, so this week we set out to two of the youth groups we are working at to kick-start achieving this goal. Firstly, we explained the stages of creating the garden before we went outside and started attacking the ground to find suitable soil. Thankfully, the local volunteers attending the session knew a little more about cultivating than us, the UK volunteers, so they showed us how it was done.

To be able to maximise our time we split our team: five volunteers went to the Lobengula Vocational Centre and the other five to the Hope Fountain Youth Group. In Lobengula we began to work in two gardens and the youths are preparing a larger piece of soil for us to establish even more gardens. At Hope Fountain, which is a more rural area, we established 13 gardens which is incredible. We helped the locals collect water from the borehole pump, we found this to be very tiring but it also made us appreciate how easy it is to turn on a tap and get fresh water back in the UK.

This week the schools reopened after their one month first term break and we got a chance to visit them at the beginning of the week and distribute our questionnaires so that we have an idea on their level of HIV knowledge. Later in the week, we held our first HIV awareness workshops at Sizane High School (attended by over 50 students) Emakhandeni High School (over 70 students) and at Nketa High School (attended by 40 students). It was very rewarding to have such a large number at our workshops and so many happy faces excited to see us. The students were asking for us to come back as soon as possible and informed us there is an inter-school quiz happening in the future and they wanted us to help them prepare for it. 

We also spent Saturday at our in country team leader, Jackie’s house. We made the traditional meal of sadza, chomoilia, beef, braii’d sausage and salad. It was great to spend some time together out of the office. The girls stayed in the kitchen prepping the sadza, while the boys prepared the braii (similar to a barbeque) and cooked the sausage.

Jackie’s family were very welcoming and really enjoyed having us around and Jackie’s mother had baked scones for us which tasted amazing. The whole family and the UK team sat around the table and we felt like true Zimbabweans. After washing up we walked around the community and met many people shocked to see khiwas (white people) about. 

Overall our week has been very engaging, interesting and eye opening. Our time in Zimbabwe may be short but we are definitely seeing progress internally with ourselves and with the youth we are reaching.   

Blog written by Team MAC Zimbabwe April-June cycle.