Zimbabwe Chainsaw Project
Dear MEMO supporters;
Disclaimer: The following may not be accurate in all details but the message is correct.
A common complaint about humanitarian work around the world is that it is like driving a car into a crowd of starving people, throwing food to them through open windows and then driving on. It does nothing to solve the real problem of ongoing community sustainability. The following, though long, is to reassure you that MEMO and the people we support are truly involved in creating sustainable community development.
First a short history lesson; Zimbabwe (Rhodesia as it was called) was officially colonized by the British in 1923 and thousands of British citizens emigrated, many to establish large farms on the best land in Zimbabwe to be farmed by indigenous workers. In 1980 Rhodesia became Zimbabwe having gained independence from Britain. White farmers could keep their land for 10 years and then a “willing seller and willing buyer” policy came into effect. Agriculture was about one third of the country’s economy. Zimbabwe was established as a democracy.
In 1985 Robert Mugabe became president and the country slid into a de facto dictatorship. In 2000 Mugabe held a referendum to take over the 4000 white owned farms without compensation. To his surprise, the referendum did not pass. He then sent in government thugs (army veterans) to terrorize the white farmers until most of them left for Canada, Australia and Britain, basically taking only the clothes on their backs. The farms were then mostly broken up into small parcels and given to 90,000 of Mugabe supporters, many of whom were army veterans. Most of them thought the crops would grow by themselves while the new caretakers (who knew nothing of farming) sat watching from the front porch of the farmhouse. Within a few years Zimbabwe’s economy shrank by almost 50% as most farmland returned to natural forest.
My understanding is that Rasper was one of those farms. A small area of the farm was left to the family who previously owned it. In 2015 President Mugabe resigned and his appointee, Emmerson Mnangagwa took over. Also in 2015, the Zimbabwe Gecko Society (ZGS) was working with nationals on the small piece of Rasper land still owned by the original white farmers. They developed a home for 600 AIDs orphans and taught them how to raise their own food by gardening, pig, goat and chicken husbandry. They built a school so the kids would have a basic education. They also began a carpentry school for older boys and a sewing school for teenage girls so when they graduated from the orphanage they could support themselves rather than ending up on the streets. A simple medical clinic has been established and operated by national health workers to care to 90% of the schools’ and local residents medical needs. A growing church has been born. Previously, the population was mainly demon worshippers casting spells on each other so as not to be harmed. (Not a good way to develop community!) Now that they have Jesus in their hearts, better nutrition and health, the farmers have new energy and concern to care for their families and others, rather than just scratching out a subsistence living. The ZGS is providing training in good farming methods called “Farming God’s Way”. But their land is covered with mature trees. Donors have provided the ZGS with a portable saw mill so they can turn trees into lumber to be used in their carpentry school making furniture for the school, orphanages, medical clinic and for sale to the community. So now the ZGS is hiring four local tree-cutters to clear the land for farming once again. Rasper uses the trunks of trees for lumber and the farmers get cleared land and firewood. The farmers are beginning to be able to feed their families well and have money left over to buy new things like bicycles or even a small refrigerator. The above is a good example of creating sustainable community development with farming, carpentry, tailoring, education and medical care with stable, remunerated employment in each sector. The government, seeing the amazing development of this small piece of Rasper Farm by nationals supported by ZGS, has returned a large part of the original farm to them for development. And so the whole community has the opportunity to expand farming and all the supporting jobs that go with it. BUT FIRST THE TREES HAVE TO BE CUT TO CLEAR THE LAND.
AND THUS THE ZIMBABWE CHAINSAW PROJECT:
Cutting down mature trees by hand is not easy work. SO IF YOU OR YOUR FRIENDS, NEIGHBOURS OR OTHERS HAVE CHAINSAWS THAT ARE NOT BEING USED, PLEASE CONISDER DONATING THEM TO MEMO. Hard hats, safety clothing, sharpening tools etc. are also needed to ensure safe work habits are followed. We have a small engine mechanic who will make sure the chainsaws are in top operating condition before being shipped in our next container to Zimbabwe on March 27th.
We still need $8,000 to finish paying the $23,000 shipping costs.
GOOD NEWS: We again have a donor who will MATCH EVERY DOLLAR up to a total of $8,000 to ship March 27th.
So when you donate to MEMO you can be sure your money is going into sustainable community development.
To donate a chainsaw, call me at 807 627-6360.
To donate toward shipping costs, click on the “Donate” button on this website.
Thanks so much for your support,