Craft Sales Support Mission in Zimbabwe
At the far end of the General Conference exhibit hall, the Rev. Vienna Mutezo tends a handsome array of handcrafted gifts to raise funds for people and programs in her Harare Central District in Zimbabwe.
“When I travel I bring items to sell that I know people will be interested in,” said Ms. Mutezo, Harare Central District Superintendent.
Women’s groups in Zimbabwe made most of the items on her display, and sales will benefit women, widows with children and students at the Nyamacheni Mission School, a 2011 United Methodist Women Call to Prayer and Denial grant recipient.
“In Zimbabwe the government provides primary education for 6-12 year olds. After that, funds permitting, parents have to pay to send their children to secondary school,” Ms. Mutezo explained.
For families that cannot afford secondary school, there are some less expensive programs available that offer training in construction, tailoring, cooking and catering, she said, but not enough.
“Our plan as a church is to introduce training in these subjects as part of the school curriculum at Nyamacheni,” Ms. Mutezo said.
About 30 percent of Nyamacheni Mission School’s 291 students are orphans, disadvantaged or members of child-headed families. Many of these students came to the school through local pastors or church members who discovered during home visitation or other community encounters, that the children were living alone and not going to school. Without family to pay even small school fees, the church pays their way, as able. “Sometimes we take them in the school for a year, but it’s very difficult for us to guarantee their fees till they complete the school, ” Ms. Mutezo said.
The school used the $10,000 A Call to Prayer grant to build a staff house for teachers who had been walking miles to and from the school each day. The school had experienced a high turnover of teachers because of the lack of staff accommodations.
The grant covered the materials for building the staff house, and the community came together to make the facility a reality, she said. Local people brought sand and water to the site in their own ox-drawn carts and assisted with the labor.
The secondary school that opened January 7, 2006 now includes one classroom block and a staff house. The new building will be dedicated in June.
With a 75 percent national unemployment rate in Zimbabwe, Nyamacheni Mission School’s work to educate and otherwise equip young people with skills for the jobs that are available is paramount.
“The economy is still a challenge; we are using the U.S. dollar, not the Zimbabwe dollar, but things are getting better,” Ms. Mutezo said. “Politically we are enjoying peace. Although there are going to be elections this year, there is peace.”
Yvette Moore is editor of response, the magazine of United Methodist Women.