Skip Navigation and Advance to Content
The Simukai Trust is the inaugural project of the Tsungai Women’s Burial Society, a village based organization formed eleven years ago by women living in the Save River Basin in Mashonaland East. The burial society’s main purpose was to support the bereaved and organize the burial of victims of HIV and AIDS.
Over the past fifteen years, the burial society witnessed countless deaths, mostly of men resulting in a very high percentage of widows and orphans. From this tragedy has emerged an unlikely opportunity. The Tsungai Burial Society has become a vital unit of local organization to address community needs and objectives. Through severe hardship, the Tsungai Burial Society has provided hope and a sense of empowerment, keeping families together and preserving the dignity of the community overall. Now the Tsungai Burial Society is at the heart of a social and economic revival in the area.
Two years ago, Sekai Nzenza Shand became President of Tsungai Burial Society. A resident of Zimbabwe with links to Australia, Sekai formed the Simukai Trust to address poverty and the impact of HIV and AIDS. The project received a seed loan of $25,000 from Janet Whiting, a Partner at Corrs, and Chambers Westgarth law firm in Melbourne. The women commenced a grinding mill operation and a chicken project to generate income and enable an environment for new development initiatives.
In January 2011, two bush pumps were provided by the Australian Embassy in Harare through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s local direct aid program. This development has energized the community, providing economic and social momentum.
The vegetable gardens are green with life. The area which was once entirely dependent on rainfall for agriculture now has a permanent capacity of 6000 liters per hour of fresh irrigable water from two boreholes. Empowered by the availability of water, the local people are able to work together on co-operative projects for the first time. The greatest challenge to economic development in the region has been the land tenure system. All land in these so-called “Communal lands” formerly known as “Tribal Trust Lands” in colonial times is held under long term leases from the Government of Zimbabwe. The lack of clear title to land has traditionally inhibited the growth of community capital and co-operative enterprise in the area. Water, the essence of life, also provides an asset around which the community can organize.
The most urgent need is to feed malnourished pre-school children and rebuild the primary school at the centre of the project area. Jeche Primary School, which as a 50-year history of educational excellence, will be restored as a vital hub of project co-ordination, economic development and community consultation. The school continues to serve the community despite falling into an advanced state of decay and dilapidation.
The ultimate aim is to build micro-enterprises to enable the community to be self-sustaining. The micro-enterprises will form the basis of an economic hub that will empower local people and improve living standards for all.
The project is situated in a mountainous valley two hundred kilometers south east of Harare. It covers 34 villages spread administered by twelve village headmen in Chief Chipfumbu’s zone, Chikomba District, Mashonaland East. The population in the project footprint is approximately 5,800 people. The villages lie between the picturesque Hwedza and Dorowa mountains along the Save river valley, about seventy kilometers of dirt road from Imire Game Park. This area has largely been neglected in the development process. The health and education system has continued to deteriorate over the past ten years. There is one primary health care within a ten kilometer radius and no electricity or internet communication. A bus comes once a week from Harare. There is little or no cash economy in the area with the majority of goods and services being purchased or brought in from outside areas, including Harare. Despite the availability of good arable land, most agriculture is carried out on a subsistence basis. Without access to secure sources of underground water, local people have been entirely dependent on natural rainfall for agriculture. As a result of the paucity of economic opportunity, many young people have been forced to leave home for urban areas.
• To maintain a clean and sustainable source of water to the community as a vital step in the development of social and economic capital.
• To promote education, food security, child nutrition, health, sanitation, hygiene and environmental awareness.
• To promote and guide economic development and self-sufficiency through enterprise at the local and regional level.
• To establish sources of microfinance to kick-start businesses and social ventures. To create partnerships with microfinance providers to establish access to a fuill range of banking, credit and insurance facilities.
• To help local people write a blue print for economic development through co-operative ventures.
• To use that blue print and intellectual capital to establish similar projects in other under-developed areas of Zimbabwe.
1. To rebuild Jeche primary school at a cost of US$30 000 and begin the planning and fund raising for the construction of a high school.
2. To train community in improved health, water, sanitation and hygiene awareness.
3. To provide nutrition for preschool vulnerable children and HIV and AIDS orphans.
4. To promote environmental awareness and reduce the cutting down of trees for fencing and firewood.
5. To establish profit-based community owned enterprises that help to retain funds in the local area that would otherwise be spent elsewhere.
Current Project Achievements: January 2010 – October 2011
• Two bush pumps maintained by the village committee.
• Two vegetable gardens and supply of fresh vegetables for the community
• Fully operational grinding mill generating an average revenue of sixty dollars per week.
• Training of community in brick molding, laying and heating.
• Reduction of walking distance to nearest grinding mill by an average of ten kilometers. More time for women to do other work.
Urgent Development Needs
• Urgent repair of the run down and dilapidated primary school with inadequate school buildings and educational materials. Rain season starts in a month. (See photo)
• Toilets for the women, children and all visitors to the grinding mill. They currently use the bush for toilet and this is a serious health hazard.
• Undernourished pre-school children. One bucket of peanut butter ($50) per week mixed with maize porridge improves the nutrition of these children.
• The urgent cessation of deforestation in the area through the establishment of tree plantations and the training of local people in environmental awareness
• Transport (a small truck) to take vegetables and chickens to market 200 kilometers to Harare.
• Solar lights for chicken feeding, night meetings and grinding mill operation.
• Greater economic self-sufficiency through co-operative micro-enterprise.
• Sustainable education.
• One fully operational primary school with 350 pupils.
• One high school with 500 children. No risk of crossing flooded rivers to go to a high school ten kilometers away.
• Teachers will stay once teacher houses are repaired and habitable.
• Life skills for the women and the youth
• Training provides knowledge of health promotion, improved food security, economic empowerment, HIV and AIDS prevention, sanitation and hygiene.
• Conservation of the environment through growing of trees.
• Healthy and productive lives for women and children.
• Empowerment through micro-enterprise.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND COORDINATION
Simukai Women’s project committee and Sekai Nzenza-Shand provides project management and monitoring support. The team already provides monthly reports, semi-annual narrative and quarterly financial reports and submits them to the Advisory Team in Melbourne.
Australian Partnership to Date
• Janet Whiting (partner at Corrs Chambers Westgarth) and partner Phil Lukies visited the villages three years ago. They provided seed funding of $25,000 for grinding mill and chicken project. This seed fund provided the initial beginning of the project.
• Nick Lucas, Chartered Accountant and General Manager Logie Smith Lanyon, Lawyers in Melbourne - visited the village and prepared a development needs analysis report in September 2009. He oversees the financial accountability of the project.
• Australian journalist and crime writer, Adam Shand built a home in the village in 1996 and is part of the Advisory team. Adam is the business development manager also responsible for publicity and fundraising.
• The current Australian High Commissioner to Zimbabwe His Excellency Matthew Neauhaas provided funding for the bush pump and women’s training center. (Under construction). The bush pumps gave life to the project. Water is everything!
• Writer and academic Sekai Nzenza Shand was born in the village, grew up there and attended Jeche Primary School which is now in disrepair. She worked for World Vision Australia for fourteen years before returning to rebuild the village. She was also a former Director of Policy and Communications for World Vision Australia and adviser to Chief Executive Officer Tim Costello. She is currently the village project manager working alongside the village development committee.
1. Dr Sekai Nzenza Shand PhD - Manager, Technical Adviser, development.
2. Jessie Nzenza Kanhutu PhD – Adviser, Nutrition, water and sanitation.
3. Mrs. Winnet Chimombe – Project Coordinator, Grinding Mill and Poultry
4. Mrs. Junior Mashiri - Chicken Project Assistant
5. Mr. Luckson Chidhakwa – Grinding Mill Attendant and Guard
6. Miss Agatha Chigondo – Bookkeeper
We must maintain the momentum. We need to repair the school urgently and build toilets, feed the pre-school children. Then Simukai will move on to build the high school early next year. It’s estimated that a budget of US$30,000 will be required to re-build Jeche Primary School by the end of 2011. The cost of feeding the kids until economic self-sufficiency is achieved will be US$300 per month. We urgently invite partners in Australia to become involved in the project. This can be achieved through direct donations or through involvement in the Australian Advisory Team. We invite people with a broad range of experience to become involved in helping to write the blueprint for this innovative project. We will also invite participants to visit the project area in Zimbabwe lending their energy, time and expertise as the various projects move forward.
Mark Greeff @Simukai Trust posted a photo: Beatrice - she survived 2-26-2012 1-51-38 AM (Sekai's Simukai Supporters)
5 years ago
Adam Shand @Simukai Trust in reply to Fungai Nzenza: hey bro join the other cbos and we can start some chat.
5 years ago
Adam Shand @Simukai Trust posted the photos: Keira, Cathy and Boaz Visit to Simukai 18 2 12, Noliwe with Mai Chigondo, Simukai Children Christmas Party1 12 28 2011, Winnet Chimombe Simukai School, Peter Builder with Winnet, Roof Trusses Simukai, School in renovation, School Reno2 (Simukai General)
5 years ago