Day 7 Narrative from Sr. Toni
We left Plumtree after staying with the SVD Fathers at their hostel. We headed back to the CPS convent in Bulawayo. Before getting to the Convent, we stopped to visit one of our established MPA groups at St. Pius Parish. It is the women’s peanut butter group. We met with four women – all leaders in the group. We were astounded by their accomplishments. They have successfully made peanut butter and sold it to the school, in open markets, to their friends; and they have orders coming in for their peanut butter. This group has been so successful that they sponsored a second MPA group. The second group makes petroleum hand creams for skin protection. They are also becoming very successful and profitable. Because of their “pay-it-forward attitude,” we just learned that they are starting a third group which is comprised of women doing bead work. We are bringing some of their beautiful, beaded jewelry home to sell at the Gala. When asked “How has MPA helped you or influenced your life?” – one woman said she was able to become independent after her husband died, and she no longer has to beg. She was able to feed her kids and send them to school. A second woman said that she was able to stay in her house because of being able to pay off her debt on the house. The third woman said she has been able to give decent meals to her family and to her grandchildren. They also told us that their children are learning to pay it forward and when they are asked to do something for someone, they don’t expect payment; they just tell them to do it for somebody else—to pay it forward. It was so exciting to see their joy, their gratefulness, and to hear their plans for the future.
After meeting with them, we actually were able to see them making the peanut butter. Then we saw how the Vaseline and hand creams were made, as well as the candle-making projects. What a dynamic and exciting group to be with!!
After our wonderful morning, we headed back to the convent where we had a delicious lunch of fish, potatoes, and fresh vegetables. In the afternoon many of the group went to do craft shopping and had a wonderful time finding different and unique crafts to bring home for keepsakes and for the Gala. We ended our wonderful day with supper and will head to the game park tomorrow. Still very cold here from a person who likes colder weather – but is freezing!
Day 8 Narrative by Sr. Mary Paul Wamatu
After a good night’s sleep in Safari Lodges Hotel, we started our trip to Victoria Falls via the sisters’ convent located at St. Patrick Mission Forest grounds. In the convent, we met with two groups:
1. The drivers and their partners’ group. The drivers of St Patrick’s Hospital have been functioning for a while, but recently they decided to incorporate their wives, thus becoming like a new group. They already have $480 in their savings. They run three projects: selling of charcoal, sausages and floor polish. They are looking for funds to purchase a bigger machine to expand the sausage-making project.
2. Action Empowerment group. This is a fairly new group, composed of some hospital workers and their friends. They plan to start two projects: selling of groceries and raising chickens that lay eggs rather than broiler chickens. Though the group seems viable, the members have yet to formulate their constitution. With the support of Sr. Precious, we hope that these two groups will become very strong.
Having said goodbye to the groups, the sisters treated us to a delicious cake before we headed to Victoria Falls. At around 2 pm we arrived at the Falls.
Day 9 Narrative by Prim
After a fun-filled day at the Falls enjoying nature, then shopping and learning a bit of the culture (drumming and dancing), we finally made our way into Zambia. Crossing the border was easy enough for the passengers, but it took 2 hours to get the necessary permits for the car. Finally, we could drive the five hours it took to get to Mazabuka! Hats off to the sisters and all the drivers who helped to make our travel possible! Crossing into Zambia was also bitter-sweet because it signaled the end of one adventure.
In Zambia we visited two groups at Nchete House. The first group began with 20 members; it now has 30 who are doing extremely well. All members have individual projects, including the market stalls and a small shop shown in the pictures attached. Their savings have doubled since the year began; they have big dreams to open a cooperative to pay school fees for vulnerable children in their communities. The second group, a new one, is equally big and also has fire and passion to succeed.
Reflecting with some of the group members, we were struck by the drive and action-oriented spirit of the Zambian people, as well as their friendliness. Members were articulate and knew where they were coming from and where they are going. Tomorrow, we head off to Lusaka- the capital, to prepare for the different flights home for the majority of the group members.
Day 10: Narrative from Prim
Pictures and videos of the traditional Mass in Masabuka.
After mass, our team began to pack up and head for their separate destinations! Some back to the USA and others on in Africa!
A final goodbye!