Kufunda Village

A learning village learning our way into healthy and vibrant communities of the future


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December January Photo Journal

Photos Clock wise from Top Left: Women are Medicine; Men are Magic in the kitchen cooking; Tinashe dancing with Matheus during the Intergenerational retreat; mushroom season - bounty from the forest; Nyeredzi first term 2014; Stephen forest prince, during our intergenerational retreat; community work January 2014.

Photos Clock wise from Top Left: Women are Medicine; Men are Magic in the kitchen cooking; Tinashe dancing with Matheus during the Intergenerational retreat; mushroom season – bounty from the forest; Nyeredzi first term 2014; Stephen forest prince, during our intergenerational retreat; community work January 2014.

December was a time of Retreat. We hosted our first intergenerational retreat. 84 people all living in or near the village joined of all ages. It was glorious. We came together to end the year with appreciation and to imagine next year from that place – as a village. From Babe to Grand parent, we were all there. A women’s retreat followed soon after, with rural and urban women coming together for four days to reconnect to our power and grace as women and human beings. It was powerful. Equally powerful was how we were hosted by our men. They were in the background, cooking and tending to the hearth. We agreed that our next such gathering will be for both – it will be Women Are Medicine and Men are Magic!

Also in December was a series of workshops by our friend Lucy West, from the US, who came to teach children, teachers, and parents how to make maths more enjoyable and meaningful. It gave new ideas of how to learn together, and illuminated that oftentimes poor performance has little to do with an ineptitude on the side of the child, and more with the teacher and the methods employed. Most of life is mathematical. Lucy invited us into the possibility to engage with it.

The holidays were full of activities for the children, old and young. The new year saw us opening the Nyeredzi doors to some of our slightly older children, with 18 Kufunda kids in total going to our new school. The school is already making such a difference to the life of the village, with the joy of learning so palpable in our children, and bringing parents to life with the many questions and enthusiasm of our youngest.

 


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Highlights from 2013

We have much to be grateful for in 2013. At the beginning of this year, we came together and began the year, by sharing all the things that we appreciated from 2013. Most of what follows below was a part of that appreciation.

These all fall within one or more of our three main foci:

Education for Life, Sustainable Communities and Participatory Communities.

Children at our Centre

luciaThe children, who over the past many years have become an ever important part of our work, have really moved into the centre of much of what we are doing here.

In 2013 we co-created a new school, with friends in town. A place worthy of our children. We have initiated holiday and weekend programmes for our children, and the neighbourhood kids, and we continue to work with women in rural communities (14 kindergartens) supporting them in their efforts with the youngest children through a loose learning network of caregivers and teachers.

Last year 8 children went in to Nyeredzi, the new school, every day, as of this month 18 Kufunda children go into Harare each day for a different kind of education, which works with their creativity, their curiosity and their sense of wonder. The village is taking note of the difference between these children who go to a place that is based on love and awe of our little ones, versus the children that attend the school near Kufunda that is more based on principles of discipline, structure and control.

“I can see something new coming into my home through this child.
Something is born in the family which is important.”
Father of one of the children, who is now going to Nyeredzi.

Some of the older kids who can’t go to Nyeredzi, because it is only for 5-9 year olds at this time, have asked for activities that happen at Nyeredzi, or that visitors to the village bring.

And so in December we began a holiday programme for those children. claudiaTogether with their toddler sisters and brothers, an average of 15 older kids came three times a week to enjoy crafts, story telling, cooking and baking. We soon ran out of knitting and crochet needles – the kids were so enthusiastic! They found their own needles – long grass stems and the sticks of lolly pops, to continue the exercises at home. We also do memory games and a bit of reading, numbers, maps of the world, biology, mineralogy (where does sand come from? And what stone were arrow tips made from?) – whatever questions the kids have. Also on the list are: treasure hunts, night walks through the bush, poetry, dancing, trips to game parks. Soon the adults will be envious! This continues now during the school term as a weekend programme.

Spreading the Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations that Matter

stephenThe Way we work has become more of an explicit focus, after dear friends during last January’s Learning Festival asked us to share and teach the collaborative and co-creative way that is core to the way of Kufunda.

And so sharing the Art of Hosting (AoH) has been a big part of 2013. Five Art of Hosting workshops took place here last year; a local practitioners network has sprung up, significant in the way people are helping each other host events, gatherings, and change processes.

Specifically:

With the network of Human Rights Organizations:

A project of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, invited us to do a training workshop for their network of Human Rights Organizations. in April. The participants were drawn largely from people who had participated in a two year Learning Series – a joint initiative working at the nexus between Human Rights and Conflict Transformation. After a week of companionship, deepening into conversations that matter, and experiencing the power of meaningful conversation, there was a sense that this is an important key for real shift to occur in this country. And that Kufunda Village could have a distinct role to offer in the realization of this shift, if we choose to.

Art of Hosting with Trust Africa:

Two weeks later we hosted an open enrollment Art of Hosting workshop with Trust Africa. This time the participants were artists, activists, NGO leaders. The impact was the same – a deep resonance, strong relationships and excitement at the possibility that we can craft a new world into being through how we are with ourselves, and each other. At the end of the workshop, a community of practitioners was formed. This group has been meeting monthly since then.

cafeCommunity of Practitioners

In total, five Art of Hosting sessions have been held in 2013. Some were by request, like the one for Lawyers for Human Rights, some were for our own internal programmes, and one was an open enrollment one.

The community of Art of Hosting practitioners is going strong, meeting regularly and co-hosting events for each others projects. An example is the stakeholder gathering for the Book Café. This event supported the stakeholders in shifting their space into becoming a Community Arts Centre.

Another example is co-hosting a stakeholder gathering for the Newlands Urban Renewal Project. Co-hosting a community clean-up campaign and more recently a dialogue between artists and aids activists on how to use the arts to create more awareness on AIDS.

Hopefully this is only the beginning of a network of community dialogues about what is possible, as we connect in community around what really matters to us.

Leadership for Sustainable Communities Programme

community workOur fourth leadership programme came to an end in December. It was one of our most successful programmes to date. We had learnt from and integrated our lessons from the other programmes. The things that had worked, but perhaps more importantly things that had not. What have we learnt? That it makes no sense to teach something for the future when we can live it today. And so instead of spending time in the classroom learning about community engagement or village governance, we fully involved the students in our village. They joined in fully. They became a part of us. It required a stretch and an opening on our part – but ultimately left all of us all the richer for it. They came carrying gifts. They have not had a place to offer their gifts before – not really. In a country where unemployed young people are mostly seen as a problem to be solved. And suddenly they had a little more space; suddenly their voice was valued; suddenly they were asked questions and invited to contemplate their answers and to bring their creativity. They rocked the village with their energy, passion, and enthusiasm. And we taught them a thing or two about what is possible in human community.

IMG_7344

Read more lessons from the leadership programme here.

Becoming Village

A real village does not just consist of people between 20 and 65. They have all ages. As do we. This year we have invited the youngest and the oldest and everyone in between to truly join Kufunda. Not just as the place they happen to live, or work, but as the community they choose to be part of building.

Two events stand out in the move towards this stronger embrace of the diversity of the village,

IMG_6436The Warrior of the Heart workshop, took place in August, with visitors from Harare, Denmark, Ireland, the US, South Africa, and Kufunda. Most of our children joined the week of exploring Heart based Warriorship. Their voice and their spirit was as important as that of the visitors from afar. Morning practice, flowgames, evenings of dance, reflections on the questions we each carry. The children brought us the gift of recognising that we are all needed to make up a real community. Somehow our time together felt more Whole. We were Village Learning Together.

Anu presenting the image of all the things his age group appreciates at Kufunda. We were working in circles of 5 generations.

Anu presenting the image of all the things his age group appreciates at Kufunda. We were working in circles of 5 generations.

This continued at our intergenerational retreat in December. It is something that we have decided to do every school holiday. We also invited the children and parents who are a part of our new school, and the people who work around Kufunda, even if not formally a part of Kufunda. We were 86 people! From new borns to elders. To enable such a diverse spread our design had to be very very simple. It was. Two days. Day one celebrating everything that is dear to us, walking the land appreciating the developments of the year, drawing what we are grateful for, dancing together, meeting in circles of the different generations sharing what makes us love this place, this village. What a powerful first day. Day two was dreaming the future together. Things from lucy w kidSwimming pools, to music rooms, to women’s gatherings emerged in our dreaming. And of course we danced some more. The joy was palpable. You probably could have cut through it and taken it home as a souvenir. Being together as a true village, with our children as much a part of it as any adult; allowing the different ages to have and find their voice and their expression and gift it to the whole. It seems we are learning something about community, and what it means to be a learning village.

Gratitude and love plays a bigger part than we could have ever imagined.

In that place the connection has wings.

Women Standing Up

with Men at their backs

We closed the year with a Women Are Medicine Retreat. It is the Lorraine playing during women are medicinesecond of its kind, the first one taking place in Turkey in June of 2013. 30 plus women gathered from all walks of life for four days of retreat. The intention wassimply to slow down, and be together. In the words of one of our elders: “We were working at a new edge. We had an agreed intention – to empower the feminine but no plan. We worked in an organic spiral willing to change direction to take the risk to follow spirit – and dance it into being” It was pure magic what unfolded for us, heeding a deeply feminine way to call the feminine back into being. And the beauty was that it was made possible by our men being at our backs. Tending the fire, cooking the meals. Please link here for a beautiful story of the role of the men in our women’s medicine retreat.

 

It can be fun to learn Maths!

Playing with geometric shapesLucy West joined us for two weeks to teach a different way to teach Maths. One that actually makes sense to the kids (and adults!), is fun, engaging, embodied. There was much play with tangrams, with dice and other simple things that help connect with the numbers, forms, and patterns of the universe. I personally learnt about the mystery of geometry simply by sitting and working with understanding the fractions of different patterns whilst playing with them. I shan’t try to explain the conclusion here – because the whole point is that the process of understanding is key. From 3 year olds to elders, we all found insight and fun in learning maths through a different entry way.

Lucy worked tirelessly – she ran a workshop for the facilitators of our second chance programme, she tutored the rural women who host kindergartens in their communities, she did talks at schools in Harare to help open a sense of what is possible in teaching and engagement with and for our children. She will continue to support our work of finding much more accessible and natural ways to support the learning of our children.

Thank you Lucy!

And thank you to each and every one of you that made 2013 what it was. A joyful learning adventure for each and every Kufundee from newborn to elder.

And the journey continues!


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Who Will Speak for Wolf?

By Maaianne Knuth

I read recently in a beautiful book by Jay Griffith (Wild – An Elemental Journey) about how in the councils of many native tribes there is a practice of speaking for the other. One tribe arrived to new lands, in which wolves were plentiful, and they decided to ensure that they would honour the original inhabitants of this land, by ensuring that someone would always advocate for the rights of Wolf in their councils. Before a council the question would be asked – ‘Who Will Speak for Wolf?’

It reminded me of what we are playing with at Kufunda, also inspired by a native american tribe. To have a council of the generations. In it there are five circles, that meet on their own and then bring their wisdom back to the whole:

  1. There is the circle of the 0-13 year olds, these are the Learners
  2. There is the circle of the 14-26 year olds, these are the Seekers
  3. There is the circle of the 27-39 year olds these are the Apprentices
  4. There is the circle of the 40-52 year olds these are the Teachers
  5. There is the circle of the 53 – Up these are the Elders

From this basic model, which a friend of the village Carole shared with us last year, came the idea to host three times a year an intergenerational council, where each village member’s voice could be heard, and where space was created for the different ages to find and express their unique voice.

Our first one was this December past. At first we had a very complex design. Complex when you consider the participation of 6 year olds. And so we simplified, simplified, simplified until what was left was a simple process that turned out to be incredibly rich. We only designed the first day, wanting to work with emergence. And knowing the overall themes: Day 1: Appreciation of What Is, Day 2: Dreaming What Can Be

Day one began with collective dance (fun!), then a walk-about walking the land together to really see what is here, what is new, what is in need of attention. What a gift it was to walk together. In looking and seeing we were actually in a process of Loving this Land, of Loving the place we Live. I think the land and the place felt seen, felt honoured, felt acknowledged.

After this in our generational circles we drew and shared those things we most appreciate and love about this place – inspired from our walk.

picture of loveOpen space before lunch allowed some to prepare our meal, others to play maths games with Lucy, others to prepare for the next day. After lunch the generational circles continued with a verbal expression of what the painting had been – What is it here, that we love? We shared it in a fishbowl, with people from each circle present as speakers.

By the end of the day everyone was alight. So simple, so profound. The children were integrated, the land was present, the atmosphere was of delight. Here we are. This is who we are. And this is what we love about ourselves and our community.

The power of giving each circle its space and voice was amazing to me. The youngest organising themselves and really engaging. The texture and gift of each generation becoming so clear to us all.

The second day followed a similar pattern. It was hosted by several young people who stepped up during the open space to volunteer to design and host day two. There was collective time to explore our dreams and also generational time. The sharing at the end was in song and dance.

dancing intergen

The Apprentice Age group sharing an expression through dance

The power of dreaming from a place of appreciation is one we have discovered earlier in 2013, perhaps actually since our inception. This gathering was a reminder of this.

But back to my first question – Who Will Speak for Wolf?

Reading this piece about speaking for Wolf, or the Trees, or the Salmon…. I thought perhaps this is what comes next. Perhaps we add, even if it is a broad broad category – a council voice that will speak for the Land.

Who will speak for the Land? Who will speak for Wolf.

What a beautiful expansion of something that already feels very expanded. In December it feels like we continued a journey from 25 people with formal roles at Kufunda more deeply into becoming an alive village of 84 people of all ages who all feel they belong, in some way or another.

And now
Also,
The Land

I will speak for Wolf

Yes, I will speak for Wolf


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Becoming Village

Becoming Village

A real village does not just consist of people between 20 and 65. They have all ages. As do we. This year we have invited the youngest and the oldest and everyone in between to truly join Kufunda. Not just as the place they happen to live, or work, but as the community they choose to be part of building.

Two events stand out in the move towards this stronger embrace of the diversity of the village,

IMG_6436The Warrior of the Heart workshop, took place in August, with visitors from Harare, Denmark, Ireland, the US, South Africa, and Kufunda. Most of our children joined the week of exploring Heart based Warriorship. Their voice and their spirit was as important as that of the visitors from afar. Morning practice, flowgames, evenings of dance, reflections on the questions we each carry. The children brought us the gift of recognising that we are all needed to make up a real community. Somehow our time together felt more Whole. We were Village Learning Together.

Anu presenting the image of all the things his age group appreciates at Kufunda. We were working in circles of 5 generations.

This continued at our intergenerational retreat in December. It is something that we have decided to do every school holiday. We also invited the children and parents who are a part of our new school, and the people who work around Kufunda, even if not formally a part of Kufunda. We were 86 people! From new borns to elders. To enable such a diverse spread our design had to be very very simple. It was. Two days. Day one celebrating everything that is dear to us, walking the land appreciating the developments of the year, drawing what we are grateful for, dancing together, meeting in circles of the different generations sharing what makes us love this place, this village. What a powerful first day. Day two was dreaming the future together. Things from lucy w kidSwimming pools, to music rooms, to women’s gatherings emerged in our dreaming. And of course we danced some more. The joy was palpable. You probably could have cut through it and taken it home as a souvenir. Being together as a true village, with our children as much a part of it as any adult; allowing the different ages to have and find their voice and their expression and gift it to the whole. It seems we are learning something about community, and what it means to be a learning village.

Gratitude and love plays a bigger part than we could have ever imagined.

In that place the connection has wings.dancing intergen

 


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Spreading the Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations that Matter

stephenThe Way we work has become more of an explicit focus, after dear friends during last January’s Learning Festival asked us to share and teach the collaborative and co-creative way that is core to the way of Kufunda.

And so sharing the Art of Hosting (AoH) has been a big part of 2013. Five Art of Hosting workshops took place here last year; a local practitioners network has sprung up, significant in the way people are helping each other host events, gatherings, and change processes.

Specifically:

With the network of Human Rights Organizations:

khaya-ostA project of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, invited us to do a training workshop for their network of Human Rights Organizations. in April. The participants were drawn largely from people who had participated in a two year Learning Series – a joint initiative working at the nexus between Human Rights and Conflict Transformation. After a week of companionship, deepening into conversations that matter, and experiencing the power of meaningful conversation, there was a sense that this is an important key for real shift to occur in this country. And that Kufunda Village could have a distinct role to offer in the realization of this shift, if we choose to.

Art of Hosting with Trust Africa:

Two weeks later we hosted an open enrollment Art of Hosting workshop with Trust Africa. This time the participants were artists, activists, NGO leaders. The impact was the same – a deep resonance, strong relationships and excitement at the possibility that we can craft a new world into being through how we are with ourselves, and each other. At the end of the workshop, a community of practitioners was formed. This group has been meeting monthly since then.

cafeCommunity of Practitioners

In total, five Art of Hosting sessions have been held in 2013. Some were by request, like the one for Lawyers for Human Rights, some were for our own internal programmes, and one was an open enrollment one.

The community of Art of Hosting practitioners is going strong, meeting regularly and co-hosting events for each others projects. An example is the stakeholder gathering for the Book Café. This event supported the stakeholders in shifting their space into becoming a Community Arts Centre.

Another example is co-hosting a stakeholder gathering for the Newlands Urban Renewal Project. Co-hosting a community clean-up campaign and more recently a dialogue between artists and aids activists on how to use the arts to create more awareness on AIDS.

Hopefully this is only the beginning of a network of community dialogues about what is possible, as we connect in community around what really matters to us.


Leave a comment

Children at Our Centre

luciaThe children, who over the past many years have become an ever important part of our work, have really moved into the centre of much of what we are doing here.

In 2013 we co-created a new school, with friends in town. A place worthy of our children. We have initiated holiday and weekend programmes for our children, and the neighbourhood kids, and we continue to work with women in rural communities (14 kindergartens) supporting them in their efforts with the youngest children through a loose learning network of caregivers and teachers.

Last year 8 children went in to Nyeredzi, the new school, every day, as of this month 18 Kufunda children go into Harare each day for a different kind of education, which works with their creativity, their curiosity and their sense of wonder. The village is taking note of the difference between these children who go to a place that is based on love and awe of our little ones, versus the children that attend the school near Kufunda that is more based on principles of discipline, structure and control.

“I can see something new coming into my home through this child.
Something is born in the family which is important.”
Father of one of the children, who is now going to Nyeredzi.

Some of the older kids who can’t go to Nyeredzi, because it is only for 5-9 year olds at this time, have asked for activities that happen at Nyeredzi, or that visitors to the village bring.

And so in December we began a holiday programme for those children. claudiaTogether with their toddler sisters and brothers, an average of 15 older kids came three times a week to enjoy crafts, story telling, cooking and baking. We soon ran out of knitting and crochet needles – the kids were so enthusiastic! They found their own needles – long grass stems and the sticks of lolly pops, to continue the exercises at home. We also do memory games and a bit of reading, numbers, maps of the world, biology, mineralogy (where does sand come from? And what stone were arrow tips made from?) – whatever questions the kids have. Also on the list are: treasure hunts, night walks through the bush, poetry, dancing, trips to game parks. Soon the adults will be envious! This continues now during the school term as a weekend programme.


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Leadership for Sustainable Communities

Reflections from two Youth Leadership Programmes in 2013

In April we completed a Youth Leadership Programme that offered us the insight to perform a more stringent selection process for future programmes.

climb youthThe Youth Leadership programme followed a similar structure and curricula as our previous programme. The participants however seemed to experience more difficulties to go deep.

This helped us clarify that our key intention with this programme is to support young people to discover their passion and life work and to develop the courage and the freedom to choose who they want to be. This requires people who are willing to work with getting to know themselves. The other aspects of learning about community building and the practical skills required for sustainable community flow from there.

Kufunda’s mission is much broader and encompassing than those practical elements. Real change requires change in individuals. People waking up to who they are and who they can become.

For the second programme of the year, we focused much more on ensuring that we were selecting the right people. Young people who were willing to go on an inner journey as well as an outer one. They had to fill an application form, and were then invited for a four day Art of Hosting Training. This training served as a selection platform. This process enabled us to choose sixteen participants in a very conscious way.

The programme is just coming to an end, and it has been a rich and fruitful journey – for them as well as for us as a village.

The second big change from previous programmes, was to integrate them fully into the village. They joined our planning sessions, our weekly meetings, and our learning sessions to have a first-hand experience of how community life can be organized. They in turn brought their ideas and energy to the issues and projects at hand. So in addition to being in leadership sessions, and apprentices to the practical skills of Kufunda, they were also real contributors to the life and work of the village.

We look forward to welcoming a new cohort in 2014.

community work