This update is based on an update to our Eagles (or Wisdom) Council. We thought it would be nice to share it more broadly,
Much is alive at Kufunda at the moment. At one level the challenges of last year remain with us still – and yet the energetics have entirely shifted. We moved to no longer gettings salaries as a village overall in October, and for many there is still the reality of financial strain. Despite this, the village feels more connected than ever, and most of us are actively engaged in lifting and growing our projects. In this it feels like the energy around money is also shifting, and so money is also beginning to return to the village (its funny how life works that way). Although the amounts are small, from this month (March) most people will in some shape or form begin to receive some remuneration for their work.
New Village Agreements
During the last few weeks we were visiting by Jenny Werbeloff from Australia, who walked with the village in what can only be described as a remarkable journey. Although it covered so much more, in this update we will simply share the 9 new Kufunda agreements, which were agreed upon at the end of a two week process. They come from a deep commitment from almost the full village (only one of us was unable to be part of this important process).
These are our commitments:
- We commit to developing a PERSONAL PRACTICE – monthly we share our practices and engage in one as a collective village, hosted by one or more of us (can be the Warrior of the Heart, a yoga session, a collective visioning, etc).
- We agree to make time to PLAY – and to regularly CELEBRATE our achievements as a village (this update is being finalised after a superb afternoon of celebrating at the village)
- We commit to LEARNING – personal and collective, and recognise that we can learn from everything, including our misunderstandings and challenges.
- We commit to being TRUTHFUL TO OURSELVES, and to develop the courage to say No, when that is what we feel is right for us. This means to no longer speak what we think others want to hear from us, but to listen to and share our own inner wisdom.
- We commit to LOOK for what we can APPRECIATE rather than JUDGE about the other
- We commit to DEEPENING our RELATIONSHIPS between MEN and WOMEN. This includes holding regular men’s circles, and continuing our women’s circles. It is about examining our culture versus possibility – learning when our culture may hold us back from the possibility we seek. This is about leaving fear behind, and learning together, ‘how do we step into the future?’
- We commit to being in RELATIONSHIP with the LAND – and to learning DEEP LISTENING with and to the land
- We commit to GENEROSITY – to always ask, What can I offer in service of the whole?
- We commit to taking PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. This final commitment relates to all of the above, and for each one of us taking responsibility for creating what we really want, and keeping attention on what we value.
These came after two weeks of work, of deep learning and challenge, and feel like they are a part of a deep shift that Kufunda is living through.
A big thank you to Jenny for helping us reach this point of clarity and maturity – in a fun and playful manner.
We have recognised that some of these agreements require guardianship and are in the process of clarifying who is helping hold what (i.e. organising for the monthly hosting/sharing of a personal practice).
Youth and Learning
The youth and learning team is going very well. The second programme is about to begin. The team is in the last stages of the selection process. 24 youth from 12 communities will be joining us for 3 months starting April 16th. They will be working with personal leadership, community development, practical skills for sustainable living, and project management (turning it all into projects and vehicles to live their dreams for themselves and their community).
It costs 450 USD per youth and currently we are short of funding for 7 of the 24 young people who will be joining us shortly.
Sustainable Farming and Land Use
The partnership between Knuth Farm and Kufunda continues, after a learning-ful rainy season where the entire farm was cultivated as a partnership. We shifted many things – built rain harvesting swales, began to plant nitrogen fixing (soil improving) trees as part of an intention to shift towards agro-forestry, initiated a food forest, and experimented with new grains (rice and millet). Much of our learning was through things that didn’t work, as well as on the delicate nature of our soil which requires much attention and care to return to health. However we also had lessons springing from unexpected surprises, and overall the season has left us with much deeper insights around how to continue the journey of shifting the overall farm towards an organic and sustainable demonstration. Jenny also left a gift in this domain, of a way of working with nature and the land that is a more full co-creative partnership. We can find the answers to what is needed here in our relationship and conversation with the land – quite literally, and so this work continues in a deepened manner. On the horizon are the initiation of a market garden, which will primarily be developed and maintained by our 24 youth coming soon, as a learning platform for them.
Herbs and Healthy Living
Daiton has recently left us to pursue his dream of setting up a learning centre in Malawi. Patricia has stepped into his place with much strength and courage and has been joined by Enoch, who went through the 2010 youth programme. They have both been supported by Florence who has been with us for a few years now. They are producing high quality herbal remedies, some of which are offered for free to people in need in the community, others are sold in Harare. A new relationship is under way between the Permaculture team and the Herb team, to increase production but also to target the products more towards a higher end Harare Market, to further enable financial sustainability as well as sharing what is happening at Kufunda, through the things we produce.
The solar gogos (or grandmother) project has been on hold due to some challenges with communication with India. It is finally on the move again (seemingly like most things at Kufunda). We will hold the first Solarisation workshop at Kufunda in April for 21 members of three solar committees (from the three communities that the solar gogos are from). The workshop will teach the basics of setting up a solar home unit, and the participants will return to their communities with 3-5 solar home kits (final numbers depend on funds). Thereafter we will host a workshop in each of the three communities, to further spread and deepen the skills and help establish a solar workshop in each community (a physical place, where repairs, etc can be made). These workshops will also result in further home kits, thus beginning our work of solarising homesteads in our partner communities. We continue to explore our relationship with the barefoot college, with an aim to increase numbers of homes solarised, and also number of women able to benefit from training in India.
Each solar home kit is costing roughly 100 USD, and the more of this we can raise, the more home we can be part of solarising.
Kindergarten / Pre-school Work
Kufunda continues to focus on learning and development for the women who are working with children and orphans in their communities. In years past we would also fund them with a stipend and for food for the kids. This has not been possible for years. Our own kindergarten has been operating mostly through the volunteer efforts of the women involved. Whilst the learning is wonderful – the picture shows a recent workshop held in partnership with a new waldorf kindergarten in Harare, that has become the venue for monthly waldorff inspired early childhood development sessions, including all the Kufunda kindergarten teachers (the last one focused on nutrition as a key foundation for childhood health and thus development) – this does feel like the one project that is not sustainable in that there is no funding channel on the horizon for the every day costs of caring for the children.
In an attempt to become sustainable the Kufunda kindergarten sent the children home who were not paying the 5 USD per month fees. We were left with 2-3 children. Out of this we held a village circle, and recognised that most of our children come from a farming community in which education is not valued – many older kids are not going to school around Kufunda, because it is not a priority for their parents or guardians (unlike rural communities, farm areas have a very different dynamic, and it seems that most of the former farm workers continue to live in a way that is about seasonally offering their labour, and in which education and a longer term shift in living standards seems to not be recognised as important or possible). It is estimated that 600 000 children that should be in school are not in Zimbabwe, most of them being orphans, or indeed from this farm worker community, many of whom are second generation from neighbouring countries.
Out of this recognition it was decided to prioritise our work with the Hampton community (the neighbouring farming community) – to really figure out how we might offer more of what Kufunda does to help shift them into a place of learning and dignity. We considered as an option that perhaps the ‘payment’ of parents it to come to Kufunda once a month for a workshop on sustainability and personal development.
Although the challenge for the kindergarten remains – we felt inspired by our way of addressing this challenge as a village, to go deeper into the roots of the problem, and to begin to address it in a way that is true to who we are and what we are about.
The women’s work continues. The quality and beauty of their jewelry is improving, and they are still learning their way into how to market and sell for the jewellery component of their project to become a sustainable income earner. They have been working with Simone Poutnik to produce a leaflet describing their initiative, so that if people buy jewelry they understand that they are supporting something deeper than simply income generation (important as this is). Arawana Hayashi has made contact to a small shop at a retreat centre that will take some of the women’s creations.
The women continue to meet weekly, to engage and explore their questions of identity and power. The big themes that arose during Jenny’s time with us, were of the negative unintended consequence of Lobolla (the so-called Bride-price), which was originally paid to honour the wife to be’s family, and to bring the two families closer together. Instead it has – in its modern form – created a situation in which the men often believe that they own their wives, and where the men are struggling for years to pay everything that has been demanded of them by the wives’ families. The men and women discussed this separately and together, with the question arising as to whether we wish for this for our children, and if not (as the case was) how we might shift this, including even possibly not engaging in the practice of lobola for our girl-children when the time
comes to this. These conversations are so important, as they are part of our intention to move into future possibilities that build on our culture, but do not let a restrictive culture hold us back. Another important outcome has been the initiation of English lessons, as the women who are the most quiet at Kufunda (and often also struggle most in their relationships) are the ones who don’t speak English. Ticha has offered to give English lessons 2 times a week to further their learning and development, in this instance in the language of English.
Whilst it may still sound like much is afoot, it feels like the village is actually focusing more – the primary projects are the working with the land (including the herb production), the youth programme and the solar projects. The women are not so much a priority project, as it is an initiative that they are holding and making happen. The fact that the kindergarten hasn’t formally been agreed on as a focus may well be part of its struggle to move towards a deeper sustainability.
Secondly the regular coming together of the village (weekly), and the functioning of the new Village Council (that also meets regularly) are both important reasons for the healthier flow and steady progress of the village at this time.
The Journey of Learning Continues…