The Lööf Foundation, represented by Mikael Persson and Martin Erasmus in collaboration with Hand in Hand Sweden, visited our friends from Hand in Hand Zimbabwe at the Community Upliftment Project created at Matshena Garden on Tuesday 17 October 2023.

The southern African country of Zimbabwe has a population of 15-million people – including some of the most vulnerable communities in the world. Zimbabwe’s economic decline was due to hyperinflation and a currency crash following a failed land reform crusade under the rule of first president Robert Mugabe. Many citizens have been forced to leave in search of jobs in neighbouring countries. Those who are left rely mostly on the land around them for self-sufficiency – and are totally at the mercy of the harsh climate.

Hand in Hand Zimbabwe
There are currently 35 people employed at Hand in Hand Zimbabwe. Hand in Hand works with three different types of projects:
Self-Employment Projects, Accelerator Projects and Community Upliftment Projects. The project sponsored by Lööf Foundation is a Community Upliftment Project (CUP) managed from the local office in Gwanda, about an hour drive from Simbumbumbu Village.

Our village – Simbumbumbu
Simbumbumbu is in Ward 7 in Gwanda District. Out of the 25 wards in Gwanda, Hand in Hand runs projects in 15 of those. There are around 900 households in Simbumbumbu alone, with an average of 6 family members in each. Many of these are women-led households as many men have left for South Africa in search of employment – some never returning or able to send money home to their families.

Our project – Matshena Garden
Matshena Garden is run by a group of 26 villagers, of whom 20 are women. Hand in Hand supports the project with staff three days per week. What was once an area of sparse bush, has now been cleared and cultivated into a thriving community food garden. With funding from the Lööf Foundation, Hand in Hand was able to invest in two JoJo-tanks, a solar-powered water pump and pipes for the garden. The result is a productive garden that gives the villagers both nutritious food and income from selling surplus produce.

Among the produce grown in the garden are butternuts, leafy greens, sugar beans, onions, tomatoes and cabbage. The garden also contains a nursery where cuttings are being grown for tree saplings – including mostly lemon trees but also mango, orange and papaya trees. These trees are being planted within the community or sold for profit.

Additionally, there is now a chicken house where they are raising 200 broilers within the garden. Plans are underway for a micro-fish farm and digging has begun for the fish pond.

A harsh reality in a poor community is that the garden has to be guarded overnight to prevent poaching or theft. However, Matshena Gardens has had a big positive impact on living standards for the 26 villagers involved and their families. Many of the mothers shared that they no longer struggle to pay school fees for their children and now have a reliable nutritious food supply.

Members are currently making a profit of US$40 per month each. They are able to save at least US$2 each per month to go toward future expenses. They are working towards a target of US$60-70 profit per month – which doesn’t seem to be too far away. Reinvesting in a sustainable future will ensure both garden and community continue to flourish in years to come.

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