Harare, Zimbabwe – With much, much gratitude from Zimbabwe! – by Hillary Mazura & Rachel Nield-Geranios
There are still miracles like those in the Bible that happen every day, whilst you are helping others.
As we began preparations for this inaugural ‘Especially for Youth’ for Harare, we knew we should expect about 600 young men and young women from all walks of life. This would require incredible planning and resources in order for it to be a success. We set to work and it was incredible to watch the miracles unfold – we felt like the Israelites crossing the Red Sea!
Containers from US
First, came the miracle of the containers that had come from America care of ‘Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics’, it was amazing to see the kindness and thoughtfulness of people so far away, as we unpacked the containers we were very emotional as we realised that it could not have been without great sacrifice that people had been able to send such generous gifts. Most of what is in the containers goes to hospitals and the many needy people wherever we find them around Zimbabwe, however each year items have been sent specifically for blessing the lives of our Youth.
As the Youth arrived at camp, they were very excited. They began streaming in from 6.00am and considering how far many of these children had to travel and the difficulties surrounding public transport which they use, it showed how much planning had taken place in order for them to arrive so early.
As they registered we handed the leaders their operational itineraries and everyone their name tags, Ice-breaker questionnaires, EFY T-Shirt (donated by anonymous donors) and for the boys a cap (donated in the containers) which they were VERY excited about and for the girls their underwear (donated in the containers) and a skirt to wear for the formal activities (donated in the containers by Downeast Outfitters). They could not believe that these things were really for them, that they could keep them and that they were for free – a sign of their gratitude was that we had to remind the boys to remove their caps indoors as they were so proud to have them on and the girls all wore their skirts to the dance even though they were too big for most, (they hand-stitched the waistlines smaller while getting ready for the dance).
After breakfast they went to settle into their dormitories and as they walked in there was a reverent silence as each child walked slowly over to a bed and examined the sheets and blanket, the cup bowl and plate – only with encouragement did they begin to unpack the bag that had been placed at the foot of each bed (containing the hygiene and educational supplies provided for each child). Again their absolute gratitude was manifested by the notebooks and pens being brought to almost every activity and the hygiene supplies being returned neatly to their Ziploc bags after each use.
At our Opening Ceremony the most beautiful feeling was present and as we sang, tears streamed down our faces as we looked out at these special youth and the great responsibility we carried for the next few days, to make this a truly life-changing experience. For the Ice-Breaker games we had divided the youth into 50 smaller groups, each with a team leader. These included making a team war cry and painting a team flag, singing their war cry as loud as they could after having put 3 crackers in their mouths and a few other particularly funny introductory games.
Lunch and all mealtimes were highlights of each day as the people who donated the food had been incredibly kind in their contributions and given very generous portions per child. Most of these children never see meals like this and so at our first meals were packing up items of food to keep in their dormitories (thinking they might not get enough food later), these were luxuries like boiled eggs and bread. Some of the youth who were on Anti-retrovirals (HIV AIDS Medication) came every 3 hours for their food. For instance one organisation donated 1800 eggs and 200kg of Chicken – incredible!!
On this first day after lunch we had a series of 10 workshops conducted on a half-hourly rotation in groups of 60 with time and hand-outs donated by the people conducting them (not all of them were members, which proved to be a great missionary tool). These workshops were a combination of fun and learning – Ettiquette and Manners, Public Speaking, Environmental Awareness and Conservation, Newspaper Fashion Show (this is always a big hit as the youth in groups of 10 elect a model and then proceed to design them an outfit including accessories made entirely of newspaper, tape and pins), Sexual Abuse and How to get Help, Self Defence, Life Skills through Sport, Choir Practice for our closing ceremony, Court-ball (for some energy release).
“Life is meant to be enjoyed, not just endured”, President Gordon B. Hinckley
The Future Zimbabweans
We cannot express enough our profound gratitude to all those who assisted with this ground breaking Zimbabwean ‘Especially For Youth’ possible. Our wish is that this serves as a starting point, the foundation for youth camps to follow. Instead of just serving Harare, it is our desire to be able to assist, join and share – thus serving all the Youth of Zimbabwe.
As we watched these young people’s lives changed it re-emphasised the fact that there is nothing we could do of more importance at the moment than to influence, teach and guide these Youth – enabling us to set a bar of excellence and hope for them to take back with them to their respective areas. The respect and attention they paid to all that they were taught, clarified in our minds what a sense of responsibility we have to impart knowledge, truth and love to these Youth that are now determining their destiny’s and thus those of the future generations of Zimbabweans. ♥