Welcome, hearty viewers, to this week’s edition of Good People, Good Works, featuring Zimbabwean musician and master mbira player, Cosmas Magaya, who is also the Project Director of the Nhimbe for Progress program which seeks to enhance community welfare in six villages in Zimbabwe’s Mhondoro region.

“Nhimbe” means people working together with a common goal, emphasizing the direction they want to go. And this is why we named the project Nhimbe for Progress.

The overall goal of Nhimbe is to uplift the people in Zimbabwe, and really recognize our spiritual relatedness, and how we have something to offer each other. Some things they’re lacking. Some things we’re lacking. And through this co-creative experience, there's an exchange going on, and it's a very powerful exchange.

Nhimbe for Progress is a project of Ancient Ways, a US-based non-profit organization founded by Jaiaen Beck in 1994 to preserve indigenous cultures, with emphasis on promoting the music of Zimbabwe’s Shona people and improving the lives of the Shona in rural Zimbabwe by providing health services, schools, and infrastructure such as housing and toilets.

Since 2001, up to now, they have constructed about 38 huts, which is a very good job done by Nhimbe.

Nhimbe in the three years has built the community center, the preschool, and has built up a library.

The Nhimbe for Progress project serves approximately 400 families or 1,350 people. The noble endeavor started as a result of Ms. Beck and Mr. Magaya meeting while he was in the United States for six months as part of a cultural exchange in 1998 and then again the next year when he was touring the country.

I visited the United States with the mbira group, in 1999. So Jaiaen (Beck) came to visit when we were performing at University of Oregon. Then she met with all the mbira players as well as myself.

Then we had a chance again to talk about the suffering of my people. And that is when we agreed to start Nhimbe for Progress.

Nhimbe for Progress has opened a health center that offers free medical care to the residents of the local villages.

Juliana (Mikombegumi) has had training as a village health worker. So there’re some things that we’ve brought her, so that she can help you when you have minor ailments that don't require a doctor. There’s a problem from parasites that come from standing water, and Juliana knows how to test for this. And we brought the medicine. We have the medicine to treat it.

The biggest health problem I see is diarrhea because we have not enough toilets.

For people to live a healthy life, they really need to have some toilets. They really need to drink safe water.

We came up with the health center. And this health center has really helped alleviate a lot of suffering. So we really help the people by creating this health center.

Also at this health center, we teach people the hygienic standards, because teaching them the best practices in life helps reduce the chances of people getting sick and going to hospitals.

During the rainy season, when it’s raining, people, they use bush toilets. So that is swept into the drinking water which they drink, which is not protected. But if we have protected water, like wells, then definitely we reduce that. A fewer number of people will be affected by diseases, and as a result we are eliminating expenses on buying medicines.

How has Ancient Ways helped in improving the water availability and quality?

They've helped by sponsoring some wells.

How many wells?

So far I would say, we’ve managed around 20 to 50. We have helped quite a number of families. So, when they have a well, then they can also have a home garden. Then, they can water it and grow vegetables.

Like if you have water, you have a garden, you have a livelihood.

That’s right. Water is life.

Nhimbe for Progress has also established a preschool that serves 80 students.

Nhimbe for Progress preschool is different from the other preschools because the education, it's far much better, and it provides food for the children.

We have introduced a preschool, or we call it a crèche. There used not to be any crèche nearby, so we introduced that. And our preschool, we also feed these young minds. And they stay healthy, and they are taught how to live nicely. They are also taught to water their own garden. We give them little bottles, and there’s a well, and, they are supervised by their teachers.

It will help them do something. At least then they know, from the early age, that food is grown. We have a garden where they grow vegetables, mangoes, guavas, (we have) all sorts of fruit trees. So the kids can also utilize that. Besides that we also buy some really good food, beans, nutritious stuff to feed them.

This is the Nhimbe preschool, the only one,
the best of all, the one I love.
This is the Nhimbe preschool, the only one,
the best of all, the one I love.
This is the Nhimbe preschool, the only one,
the best of all, the one I love.

We asked Mr. Magaya to share some stories of children Nhimbe for Progress has assisted over the years.

Yes, I have some good stories, exciting stories. Sometimes in cultures, and in our culture, in Africa in particular, a girl is not favored to be sent to school, because the thinking was, “Once she’s grown up enough, she gets married." But the boy, send him to school wherever. So, in Nhimbe we managed to have some girls who are going to school.

For example, Jane Champati has been sponsored by Nhimbe through Ancient Ways to university level. And a year ago, she was in some exchange program in Germany, and right now she’s working on her master’s degree. So this is really a great achievement, a great story. Because as a parent who also has got four kids, three of them are girls, I really like to see girls being helped to achieve their goals in life.

So the second story is about a young boy who is now a man, who was also helped by Nhimbe to go to university and did his law degree. He is now working as a lawyer for human rights in Zimbabwe. We thank Ancient Ways for working so hard, continuously assisting us to be able to achieve these good things.

For all the people whose lives have been transformed, Nhimbe for Progress has a special place in their hearts.

Nhimbe for Progress has given us a very big change, in such a way that it has chosen those children who are capable in class, but they’re financially disadvantaged. In that case, we see those children progressing very, very well, and it’s helping.

I would like to say, thank you, Nhimbe. Keep on helping us.

I feel very free and relaxed and all this is because of Nhimbe. I feel like dancing.

What would you like to accomplish in the future through Ancient Ways for your community, for your people?

I really would want to see more people in Zimbabwe, and more people within my community utilize their land well. And, as a result, be able to produce enough food which can keep them going, and so that they don’t continue depending on Nhimbe. So my goal is get a tractor which can really till the land for people, so they are able to grow enough food.

Before we close our program, Mr. Magaya will show us the workings of the mbira, the sacred instrument of the Shona people.

I will take my instrument out of my resonator so that people can see. This is the mbira. And the mbira has got 22 keys. But you may find mbiras with more than 22 keys. Those are extra keys. And the keys lay on the bridge and you see the crossbar keeps the keys intact with the sound board.

You see, there’s a hole on the right, that’s where we insert our little finger in order to control the mbira when we are playing it. And also you see there’s this, little thing, that resembles rattles or shakers. Because when we play, they vibrate. We need the vibration.

We are touched by your works, Cosmas Magaya, Jaiaen Beck, and all the staff and volunteers of the Nhimbe for Progress program and Ancient Ways. With blessings from God, may Ancient Ways and Nhimbe for Progress continue to successfully create a better life for disadvantaged people in Zimbabwe in the future.

For more details on Nhimbe for Progress and Ancient Ways, please visit www.Ancient-Ways.org

Elevated viewers, we have enjoyed your company on this edition of Good People, Good Works. May the joy of sharing be known by all.