James Kapnek, an American entrepreneur found great financial success in Southern Africa in the late 19th century, and decided to leave his fortune to build communities in Zimbabwe. He is the founder of Kapnek Trust.
I came across the work of the Kapnek Trust through their Board Member Dr. Chiura, who also happens to be an Advisor on the work I am doing with Tiritose. It was a case of great timing as they were expecting a group of American high school students to visit Zimbabwe and volunteer at two of their sites in Ngezi. Call it love at first site if you may!
The Kapnek Trust is a registered charity operating in Zimbabwe with offices in the United States. The Trust pivoted its focus in the 1990s to become a grant-seeking implementer of programmes to benefit vulnerable children in Zimbabwe. Today, the organisation runs several programmes, including Paediatric HIV Prevention & Treatment, Pre-school Child Health, Paediatric Disabilities and Harare Children’s Hospital.
The group of high school students arrived in Harare in June 2016, accompanied by two parents. Tiritose being in charge of the logistics and on-the-ground support, I gave orientation talks on health, safety & security – preparing them for life in Zimbabwe, albeit being a visit of only two weeks. Regardless, it is always important to feel safe when exploring new and unfamiliar places.
The Tiritose orientation programme consists of exploring the local farmers’ markets for the fresh, organic produce, a trip to the Northern suburbs before contrasting it with a trip to underserved communities on the other side of town. Harare is a city of many contrasts, and a walk in the city centre exposes these contrasts, with a national gallery on the one end, a recreational park next to it, with some lovely sculptures, and then across the road are run-down government buildings and littered streets.
We also had a visit to Kapnek’s two sites in Mhondoro-Ngezi, about 120km from Harare in Mashonaland West Province. There they were finishing up a classroom block and painting it with the trademark Kapnek colour PINK. While in Mhondoro-Ngezi, the students stayed at one of the Zimbabwe National Parks accommodation sites, with a lush dam view perfect for watching the sunset – which was needed after the days they had at the sites.
The activities at the two sites varied from working on and painting the buildings in the morning and then spending time playing with the children in the afternoon. The high school students and their parents had fundraised in the United States so they came well prepared with soccer balls, clothes and other toys for the small children. The excitement was unreal from the Mhondoro-Ngezi children, and the high schoolers were equally excited to be accepted into a new community.
What’s a trip to Zimbabwe and Africa without a safari right? After spending a decent amount of time in the capital Harare, and in a rural setting in Ngezi, it was time to experience the 7th Wonder of the World – the mighty Victoria Falls. Just like anywhere in Zimbabwe, you can never have enough of it and sadly, after such a lovely time with the children and getting their hands dirty, we had to say goodbye. The girls certainly did not want to go, and the tears proved it, for the boys, well – they cried inside!
The work everyone involved with Tiritose has been doing over the last year has attracted all the right kind of attention. The latest being an invite to join the Fundraising Committee for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Harare, an appointment I did not take lightly. The SPCA is doing important work taking care of Harare’s animals, and I am humbled and very excited to get going so that we may reach the $425,000 needed to run the SPCA.
The first task we embarked on as a new committee was to put our volunteer t-shirts on at the St. John’s Spring Fair held during the weekend of 02 Oct 2016. The task seemed simple at face value: handing out membership forms to the crowd attending the Spring Fair. How difficult could that be right? Well, pretty difficult given that people met dozens of flyer-issuing people before they paid at the gates, and I know how I for one often try to avoid getting too many flyers when moving around a crowd. I think we all can agree it is not the most popular job in the city.
It was not all gloomy though; I had several people approach me to find out how they could adopt puppies and kittens. Some people came up to me to let me know they support the SPCA, which was all so very encouraging. Noteworthy, was one friendly couple that realised that I had mentioned ‘our vulnerable cats and dogs’ in my monologue to them. They proceeded to report a neighbour who they thought was abusing their dog as they could hear cries coming from the property regularly.
We have since handed the case to an SPCA inspector who will conduct further investigations. Such a case goes to show what the funds we raise goes towards. Another case is of horses that were found abandoned on a mine and had to be carried back to Harare to receive medical attention. All these initiatives do not come cheap, neither is running the kennels and the clinic that does not turn away animals regardless of the owner’s ability to pay the bill.
The Spring Fair served as the commemoration for the World Animal Day that is officially held on 04 Oct 2016. Those of you with some cool fundraising ideas, please do shoot them my way, and prepare for multiple calls over the course of the year to join us in any of our initiatives.
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