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Letter: Zienzele Foundation Celebration

To the Editor:

My wife and I recently returned from three months in southern Africa. We traveled 1,200 miles in South Africa on bicycles, and even farther by car in both South Africa and Zimbabwe. We lived in Zimbabwe in the 1980s, but after 28 years we were in for surprises.

Perhaps we were naïve about South Africa, expecting to encounter Bishop Tutu’s “Rainbow Nation,” with blacks and whites building a just, multiracial society. We were surprised by pervasive fear and increasing economic disparities. South Africa is a beautiful country, and we met wonderful people, but we are pessimistic about its future.

Zimbabwe is a different story. In a nation ravaged by AIDS, ruled by a destructive dictator and burdened by an economy recently in ruins, we expected people to be discouraged. Not so. We were surprised by their resilience, energy and optimism.

We spent two weeks participating in the Zienzele Foundation’s work with women and orphans in southern Zimbabwe. The Zienzele Foundation is based here in the Upper Valley, and I am on the board. Its mission is to help women and orphans become self-reliant. It coordinates 36 women’s groups whose efforts provide education for 800 orphans.

The founders of the Zienzele Foundation are Nancy Clark of West Topsham and Prisca Nemapare of Harare, Zimbabwe. They will speak at the 12th annual Zienzele Foundation Celebration on Tuesday, May 21, at the Dartmouth Outing Club in Hanover. The celebration is an enjoyable opportunity to learn about the foundation.

Tax-deductible tickets are $30 at the door and help support the foundation. Tickets cover snacks catered by A Taste of Africa, beverages including beer and wine, entertainment, information about Zimbabwe, and a chance to win a beautiful hand-woven basket. The celebration runs from 5:30 until 10. Come for as short or long a time as you like, but try to be there from 6:30 until 7:30.

Information about the foundation is at www.zienzele.org. However, the best way to learn about the Zienzele Foundation is to attend the celebration. You’ll have fun, and you also may be surprised.

Wally Smith

South Strafford