Community volunteers at Antelope Park have daily interaction with the local people of Zimbabwe. To provide a greater understanding of the Zimbabwean culture, the Park has hosted an African Culture Evening for all volunteers. The event was also designed to raise funds for two local community projects; the ALERT Education Centre and the Drop-in Centre, which provides a daily hot meal for Gweru’s street children and destitute adults.
The volunteers joined in the fun of the evening, arriving dressed up in traditional attire. Local staff members shared the true meaning of what it is to be a Zimbabwean and talked about the two main cultures; Shona and Ndebele. All of this took place under a starry sky around the fire, just as it would be for people living out in the rural areas.
During the evening, volunteers had the chance to try out some local snacks. Some weren’t that different from what they might eat at home; roasted salted peanuts and maputi, a corn-based snack, while others were much more adventurous; including macimbi, which are mopane worms! They also shared a traditional Zimbabwean drink called mahewu, a nutritious drink made from millet malt. This was followed by a meal of sadza, made from maize/corn, with a tomato gravy and meat. The volunteers ate with their hands, which is customary with this kind of meal. After they had eaten, the volunteers enjoyed listening to the drums and took part in traditional dancing.
The event proved to be a huge success. Not only did the volunteers enjoy the evening and appreciate having a greater understanding of the Zimbabwean culture, but it also helped to raise vital funds for the two community projects. Antelope Park now looks forward to hosting another African Culture Evening in the future.
One of the local projects visited by Antelope Park community volunteers is Mudavanhu School for the Disabled. The interaction between children and volunteers is truly special. The children get very excited when the volunteers visit and thoroughly enjoy each moment of their time together; learning new things, playing games and sharing friendship.
This is what Bethan from Australia had to say about her visit to the school:
'On our first community visit, we went to the Mudavanhu School for the Disabled and it was incredible. Mudavanhu is privately run and dedicated to the care and support of children and young adults living with disabilities. The school caters for about 45 kids and teaches hygienic and life skills, as well as basic literacy and math. It was hard at first to see the poverty (relative to first world standards) that the school is in. Without electricity, high quality resources, or even enough room in their dining hall, the school’s apparent success due to the dedication of the teachers and volunteers like us – and the absolute joy, enthusiasm and openness of the children was amazing to see and be a part of. I can’t emphasise how challenging and therefore rewarding working with these kids is. I was pretty nervous when I first heard we were going there on our very first day, but I loved it so much. So special.’
If you would like to volunteer in the community, you can find out how here.