Newsletter 1 / 2022
Zimbabwe’s agriculture growing season 2021-2022 got off to a slow start because rains were late and maize planting was delayed. January 2022, however, brought heavy rain, even floods, and now the maize harvest is expected to be more or less normal. A typical maize yield per growing season is around one million tonnes. Upwards of another million tonnes must be imported.
In 2021, the economy profited from both the bumper harvest in the previous season and mining, and GDP growth was about 4%. For 2022, the Government predicts growth of 5.5% and the IMF 3.1%. The inflation rate is currently in the region of 60%. Risks to the economy lie in low agricultural productivity, a weakening exchange rate and accelerating price rises, electricity cuts, possible resurgence of Covid 19 and still high indebtedness of the public sector.
December marked the peak of the fourth wave of Covid 19 in Zimbabwe, the recorded number of infections standing at 230,740 and of deaths at 5,367. January has seen a clear decrease in these figures, and the rate of positive tests is now well under 10%. A total of 4.3 million people have received their first vaccine dose and 3.3 million their second. As of 1 February, the Government has eased lockdown regulations, but the curfew is still in place as are restrictions on public gatherings, vaccination certificate requirements, mandatory masks, and a negative PCR test is mandatory on entry into the country.
Beginning of the school year and Grade 7 results for 2021
Schools finally opened on 7 February, about one month late. The start has not been easy as teachers dissatisfied with their pay are threatening to strike, while some are staying away from school altogether and others are putting in an appearance only. Dzikwa Trust continued with its extra lessons throughout January and has provided e-learning equipment and materials to all students sitting for final exams this year.
We are making a particular effort to extend e-learning in English, Maths and Science for all Junior and Senior Secondary students. Negotiations are currently under way to acquire use of the excellent, though costly, Learners Tab platform after the pilot stage testing last year. The platform concentrates on English, Maths and Science subjects for Forms 1 to 4. Our students in Form 5 have found it also useful.
On Monday 7 February we at last got the results of last year’s Primary School final exams. The countrywide pass rate was 41.3%, which was slightly higher than in 2020, when it was only 37.6%. (2019: 46.9% and 2018: 52.1%). Thirty Dzikwa Trust students sat for their Primary School final exams in 2021.
There are six subjects at primary level: English; Shona; Maths; Agriculture/Science + IT; Social Science incl. Heritage, Family, Religious and Moral Education, Guidance and Counselling and, and Physical Education/Visual and Performing Arts.
The best possible result is 6 points, that is, 1 point for each subject. Thus, the lower the number of points, the better the result: excellent = 1, very good = 2 …. fair = 6. The lowest number of points entitling the student to a pass overall is 36.
Once again Dzikwa Trust results were good, with a pass rate of 100% for a second year running! Our best student gained 8 points, one 9, three 10, three 11, two 12 and two 13 points. The majority are continuing to Junior Secondary, that is, Form 1. Many thanks to all sponsors for agreeing to support your children through the 4-year Junior Secondary stage.
The Activity Centre’s busy interns and volunteers, plus other news
Alli, Henna and Riikka, our interns from the Karelia University of Applied Sciences in Joensuu, Finland, continued their very successful work with the children, but sadly had to leave us at the beginning of February. During their 3-month stay they had each mentored a group of students who had shown a lack of motivation, had skipped classes altogether or had had difficulty communicating with others. They gave extra lessons to Primary School children, visited homes, took part in the girls’ empowerment club and organised sports and games. They improved the Activity Centre’s first-aid capabilities, arranged a hands-on course in first-aid for three groups and wrote clear instructions for use of our first-aid kit. Thanks to their feed-back on our ‘survival guides’, these are now being re-written. They shared their experiences with engaging posts on Instagram – take a look at “harkkazimbassa”. Our heartfelt thanks to you, our power trio from Joensuu.
In January and February we have profited from the expertise of Ritva, a retired nursing teacher from Joensuu with experience of work and life in southern Africa. She, too, has acted as mentor to groups of children, helped with extra lessons and organised health education for the staff. We thank Ritva especially for arranging the cataract operation for our student Roy’s mother.
New school supplies: Priscilla, our tireless procurement officer, has joined forces with Levita, who’s responsible for the children’s schooling and wellbeing, to draw up a budget for the acquisition of school uniforms and footwear, text and exercise books etc, and hygiene supplies. The total sum exceeds 20,000 euros. The first batch of supplies were distributed to the children when the schools opened.
Luckily for the progress of e-learning, we are receiving tablets and smartphones from UNICEF Zimbabwe. In addition, we’re eagerly awaiting the used laptops promised by the Bank of Finland. Shipment to Zimbabwe is scheduled to start in March at the latest.
After a couple of years of ‘emergency meals, the Dzikwa Kitchen at our Activity Centre is now almost back to normal. 2021 was a record year, with a total of 230,000 meals being served. In January this year, we provided 8,562 meals, making for an average of 330 a day.
Children without sponsors
At the end of 2021 we had 23 children without their own sponsor and at the beginning of February there were still 18. We are currently taking at least 30 new children into the support programme, mainly at primary level. So, once again, we need new sponsors!
As a sponsor you will have a direct and rewarding impact on a child’s life and future.
Annual sponsorship payments in 2022
Primary School €420, Junior Secondary €540, Senior Secondary €720. You can pay either in full or in instalments that suit you.
Please contact Oili herself direct: oili.wuolle at gmail.com
Spotlight on fundraising
Dzikwa Trust has applied to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Zimbabwe for funding to develop our food security and environmental projects. The application covers expansion of our existing orchards, vegetable gardens and apiary plus new ventures promoting food security and environmental education, e.g. through the creation of nature paths. The application is now completed, with several rounds of additional information and hopes are high.
We also applied, albeit unsuccessfully this time, for a grant for enhancements in our food security activities from the Australian Direct Aid Program (DAP).
The Society is currently drawing up an application for three-year project support from Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA). Priority will be given to training vulnerable young people, girls in particular, in core employment skills, increasing their practical capacity in digital literacy and IT-skills under STEM advocacy, introducing and reinforcing various skills considered essential in entering the world of work, and providing concrete training and tools for small entrepreneurship and business management. The closing date for applications is 4 March 2022.
Join us as a volunteer
An important principle of our Society is that administrative costs should be kept as low as possible and that accrued donor funds should be used to support our children in Zimbabwe. This is only possible because our work in Finland is done on a voluntary basis. We need volunteers of all ages and from all backgrounds to support the work of the Board. Many thanks to Anja for her determined help with sending children’s annual interviews to sponsors.
Here are some areas where we need help this year:
Ideas and contacts for fundraising
Cooperation with schools, colleges, universities (e.g. school visits, internships, donations, joint ventures)
Communications and marketing (e.g. posting on Instagram, updating the website, producing and updating brochures etc). We urgently need help with the preparation of marketing material aimed specifically at attracting funding from the UK and US, the focus being on the convincing presentation of our results and impact over the years. We are recognised as a genuine charity in both countries, we have a dedicated bank account for charitable contributions in UK and USA and offer tax deductions to all donors in both the UK and US.
Organising events (preparations for the 30th anniversary of our support programme in 2023)
Scanning and archiving newspaper and other articles
It would give us such a boost if we could attract more volunteers and, through them, find even more effective ways of delivering our programme. If you could spare some time to help Dzivarasekwa’s children or know someone who would like to do so, please get in touch with our Chairperson, Kaisa (kaisa.leikola at gmail.com or 040-5054784).