The day is about over and we got a few things done, which is good in Zimbabwe. Things don't always happen very fast here.
Firstly we just got a message that Mike and Janeal are at the hospital so we will wait for the good news that all went well.
Second, we got another project approved today. We must be on a roll!! It is another grinding mill project for a school. It is a school that had a grinding mill that ran successfully for 7 years until the second hand motor died. They had Zimbabwe money saved but of course that disappeared with inflation. We are replacing the motor and also giving them a dehuller to go with the mill. We are actually trying to get one more project submitted by Monday (deadline) for another complete grinding mill at the Danangwe Primary school out by Chegutu where they have absolutely no desks or chairs. We hope we are not pressing our luck with grinding mill projects but we do feel like that they are a good project to help the schools be more self-sustaining and a way for them to help themselves.
We paid a bill today so that ZESA will hook up the electicity for one of our grinding mills. There was an armed guard there to protect the money, I guess. The guy behind the cage had a good sized metal box that he dropped the cash into and there appeared to be a fair bit. He had to dig through to find bills to give us our change. Didn't seem like a very good system - perhaps that is why he needs an armed guard.
We then went to UNICEF to pick up an invoice so that we can go to College Publishers where we are to pick up some textbooks (mostly math, but some science) for Primary schools (gr. 1 - 7). Now we just have to figure out how we are going to pick them up -- make several trips I guess or solicite some help. There are 3880 books worth $10,739.00. Then we have to decide what schools to give them to as we are told that some school authorities might sell them to students or other schools and we don't want that to happen. And I suppose we have to figure out where we are going to put them in the meantime -- don't know that our container will hold them. Pres. Nield has a warehouse so we may need to use that.
Elder Mayfield just brought us in a copy of his journal entry of the trip he and Elder Bullock took yesterday out to Danangwe School for their prize giving day. I think I will add it on here as it is a good description of the day. I guess I missed a good one by being sick, but couldn't be helped.
On December 1, Sister Bullock, the wife of one of our fellow missionary couples, was ill so Elder Bullock asked me if I would accompany him to the Danangwe Primary School, which is a 1 1/2 hr. drive south of Harare, where LDS Charities had provided funding for several wells along with basic school kits for the students. The school was holding an awards assembly at year-end, and the Bullocks were to be their guests of honor. It turned out to be a fascinating experience.
First of all, this was way out in the country. We drove several miles on dirt roads with huge potholes. The assembly was held outdoors under a huge metal canopy with no walls. 200+ students from all 7 grades (ages 5-12) were sitting tightly together on the dirt ground in about twelve rows. Their teachers were sitting up front with the headmaster, the school development committee chairman, and other officials; off to the side about 40 parents had also gathered. Elder Bullock and I were also prominently seated up front.
At the outset, the children sang the Zimbabwe National Anthem and then reverently placed their hands over their faces and recited the Lord's Prayer. The headmaster warmly greeted Elder Bullock and me; then 20 young students performed a traditional tribal dance with singing and accompanying drums. this was followed by speeches, recitations, and further entertainment. Elder Bullock was then asked to present the awards, consisting mostly of paper notebooks, pencils, and cloth bags. (Note: that is from some of the school kits that we gave them - they divided them up). THAT IS WHEN THE FUN BEGAN!
Three students from each of the seven grades were individually honored for their achievements in 2009. Each time a student's name was announced, the child's mother jumped up with a huge smile, began dancing, made a type of Native American pow wow chant, ran and picked up her child, and literally carried him or her up front to receive the award. Sometimes relatives or friends joined the parent in the celebration. The mothers were as thrilled as if had their child won a million dollars. Additional children received awards for various achievements, and the same thing happened every time.
During the ceremony it began raining like it would in a tropical forest; it was like being under a water fall. The headmaster kept having us move our chairs closer and closer to the children to avoid getting wet. Eventually there was so much water that a small river began running through the area where the children were sitting on the ground, so they had to split up. None of this made any difference to the kids. Most of them had no shoes on, and when a parent ran to pick up a child, they both jumped gleefully through the little stream to get to the front. I can't adequately express how joyful they were.
Afterwards, we met with the headmaster and faculty to discuss the possibility of LDS Charities providing a large electric grinder for the local community to grind their maize. The community would have to provide a secure building for the grinder, hire a miller to operate it, save enough from the profits of this service to repair the equipment, pay the miller, and buy tables and chairs for the school's classrooms. Presently the school has none. This is an example of how LDS Charities operates. Rather than just donating the table and chairs to the school, they try to get the community to work together in a cooperative effort to obtain what they need, which will also help them appreciate what they have even more.
Unfortunately, Judy stayed at the office and work the whole morning. Neither of us knew in advance what I would be doing. Therefore, I didn't have a camera to record what I saw.
These school events are kind of fun to be at. When we do our borehole and grinding mill 'turn-over' ceremonies it will be more of the same. It is so great here because they always open and close with prayer and sing hymns of praise to God. (different than the way things are getting at home).
I am going to send this before I lose it.