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Nhimbe Magaya Preschool

Location: Magaya, Zimbabwe
Website: www.sundborn.org/nhimbe.htm
Program Established: 2001
# of Children: 80Ages Served: 3-6
Immediate Needs:

As materials have to be hand-carried to Zimbabwe, financial donations are requested:

  1. $250 will feed the children a daily snack.
  2. $35 to sponsor a preschool or special needs child to attend school for a year.
  3. $25 allows a sick child to receive health care in the clinic.
  4. $15 pays for an orchard tree that will yield much needed food or plants and seeds for the children's garden.
  5. $100 towards the cost of chalkboards, woven mats and books written in Shona, the indigenous language.

Contact Person: Karen Madsen-Barton
Contact Information: NhimbeSchool@sundborn.org

The Nhimbe Magaya Preschool is a project inspired by Karen Madsen-Barton. It began through a connection to the world of Zimbabwean music, in particular Dumisani Maraire who brought Shona music to the west coast of North America. After he passed on, Jaiaen Beck of Ancient Ways traveled to Zimbabwe and with the village headman, Cosmos Magaya, began a development and sustainability project to serve 7 villages in a rural community. Karen asked if they had any interest in a school for their 3 to 6 year olds and the answer was a resounding YES.

In 2001 the parents of the Oregon Sundborn Children's House under the guidance of Karen, the Director, funded the construction of a school building in Mhondoro. For these villages, it is the first indigenous preschool and enjoys widespread community support.

Through Jaiaen Beck, Karen has been able to advise the village how to create a simple Montessori environment. The school was built with low windows so that the children can look out, a feature never before considered. They have created a garden that the children help to take care of. The teachers have a basic understanding that children should be encouraged to do what they can for themselves.

Every year, Sundborn School has sent educational materials to the school that will fit in Jaiaen's suitcase as this is the only sure way to transport goods to this rural region. Though not specific Montessori materials, they are chosen carefully to allow the children to explore concrete activities individually. They have found great joy in doing puzzles, bead stringing, simple yarn sewing and building with wooden blocks.

2006 to Present
The Nhimbe School enrollment has grown. The success of the school management along with the support and enthusiasm of donors stimulates an open door policy. Cosmas and Jaiaen decide to welcome neighboring villages into the Nhimbe preschool. There are now 140 children attending, expanding to a morning and afternoon program, 5 days a week. Due to the deprivation of family food sources, the diet for the children is varied to include beans, dried fish, rice and porridge. Local cooperatives are started to help support the preschool cooks, providing fresh peanut butter and buns. Fruits and vegetables are purchased to support the orchard and garden produce harvest.

Cosmas Magaya is a village head man of the Magaya village, which is one of the 7 villages in this Mhondoro region. He acts as the Project Director for the entire project which supports many aspects of community development for the 7 villages. Even as political conditions in the country decline, the Nhimbe school community continues to thrive, partly because it is held carefully by the nurturing of the entire project. A nurse, village health worker, and dispensary support any basic health concern that arises, often inspiring the offering of workshops for the families in hygiene and sanitation as they deal with the common problems of life in rural Africa throughout the year. The Community Center grounds are kept up and the library expanded with the children in mind. The spirit of the people is strong and optimistic. Held up as an example of a model preschool by the government education minister, its graduates excel in the government elementary school. Due to the successes, the model provided by the preschool and the project in general has been utilized to begin another project and preschool in another region of Zimbabwe , directed by Fradreck Mujuru.

This program has the potential to develop quickly into a model school for rural Africa. It is ready for a significant increase in strategic and daily leadership as well as funding for teacher training, teacher salaries, classroom materials and related development.

The Nhimbe School offers an organic, sound foundation, built on the commitment of the local people and is being held up as a model preschool by the government education minister.

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