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The Dumi Project was established in September 2010 as a response to a need identified by Dumisani Moyo in his village community. Dumi was motivated by the suffering of an old man living in extreme poverty; he wanted to take action to improve the quality of life for people suffering in Zimbabwe, and to support the development of the Zimbabwean community both in the UK and abroad.

 

Dumi linked with representatives from local groups in Coventry was able to raise some funds to provide some immediate practical support for the people of Insiza

To further such charitable purpose for the benefit of people in Sub Saharan Africa (particularly in Zimbabwe) and in England, particularly in Coventry and the County of Warwickshire as the trustees see fit, in particular but not limited  to:

  • Relieving poverty
  • Relieving those in financial need, hardship or distress
  • Advancing Education
  • Promoting good health
  • Saving of lives
  • Advancing in life, relieving the needs and helping children and young people in the particular but not limited (a) providing recreational and leisure time activities in the interest of social welfare, designed to improve their conditions of life, and (b) providing support and activities which develop their skills, capacities and capabilities to enable them to participate in society as mature and responsible individuals.
  • Providing civic responsibilities and good citizenship
  • Promoting volunteering to achieve any charitable purpose for the benefit of the public (falling within the description of purposes, set out in part 1 of the Charities Act 2011)
  • Promoting equality and diversity
  • Promoting racial harmony for the public benefit.

The Dumi Project in partnership with Insiza Community Development trust has successfully accomplished the following between 2010 and 2011 provided food relief, second hand clothing and blankets to the most vulnerable groups in the communities including orphan headed households, the elderly, the disabled, HIV and AIDS patients. Office furniture has also been donated to 7 primary schools, and 7 community soccer teams have received sports training kits and footballs – although more are needed. One computer and a TV set were donated to poorly resourced Primary School of Mapengani. School Uniforms were provided to girls and boys from poor households as well as their tuition fees paid by the organization. We have met and discussed the issues of HIV and AIDS with the community leaders and agreed on a strategy for help.

In 2012 Dumi International has donated 15 school computers to Mapengani Primary School, some furniture for the heads office, some filing cabinets, books, also donated was a wheelchair, which will be used by a disabled child, although there are at least 7 more who require our help.

How it all started

It all began at a funeral. Dumi’s mother had died and the family were gathered at her house in Ntsoma village in Zimbabwe,  some 140 km from Bulawayo.  A neighbour came to ask if there was anything he could do for them and was asked  to fetch some water.   When he came back and joined them, sitting on the floor, Dumi noticed that his clothes were so worn and ragged that he was hardly decent, almost naked.  He thought, “This man has nothing,  he obviously has no other clothes and probably very little to eat, yet he has walked for about eight miles to help us”.   Now Dumi is a man of faith and prayer and the image stayed in his mind and heart and the need grew in him to help his people some time.

Dumi left Zimbabwe in 2002 and began to make a life in England, but the image remained with him. At the end of 2009, he managed to slip back into Zimbabwe to see his father who was very ill.   He was shocked at the desperate poverty of  people in his father’s village, many of them ragged and short of food, and he came back even more determined to do something to help.

That summer he learned that an unexpected windfall was coming his way – at last he could fulfil his dream to help.

Getting under way

Dumi went to see Valerie and Michael Bennett and said “I want to buy a lorry or container”   and explained  his project.  “Oh yes”, they said and Michael began researching on the internet for containers etc. Valerie offered their little used front room to store things. Little did any of them know the whirlwind that was about to overtake them ! donations were quite crucial to the success of the project for which Dumi, the people of his father’s village and the school were deeply grateful.

Meanwhile the negotiations  for  the purchase of the lorry went on and the Bennett’s front room was rapidly filling up. It became a standing joke that, if anything was put down in the front room, it was likely to end up in Zimbabwe.   We guess more than one unintentional donation was made that way!

Then the next problem arose. Where to keep the lorry and store all the stuff? Valerie’s son Julian, who has a warehouse, came to the rescue.  Both lorry and goods could be stored there;  in the event Julian and his wife Siobhan took a keen interest and actively helped with the project.

Both Dumi and Michael became increasingly busy speeding around the area collecting all manner of things. To help, Dumi bought a Ford Transit van which facilitated things no end.   People’s generosity and enthusiasm were amazing and much appreciated.

As the departure date approached, Dumi was kept very busy with all the logistic, technicalities and legalities of sending a lorry (and now a van)  by sea to Walvis Bay in Namibia, the nearest port.The plan was that Dumi and Michael would fly, meet the vehicles at the port and take them overland to Zimbabwe.

When the departure date had been verified, things really became urgent and the date was set for loading the lorry. On a clear cold morning in November, Michael and Valerie arrived early at the warehouse to ‘supervise’ the loading as Dumi was hospitalised with food poisoning and his body was covered with lumps.

Now the question was “How could we fit all this stuff into the lorry?” Julian and two of his staff worked like mad men.

An 18 tonne lorry filled to the ceiling front to back! It was amazing.A great many other difficulties were encountered during the  journey. Travelling in intense heat, having to sleep in the vehicles because everywhere was closed, credit cards not working, money running out etc. When they arrived at the Zimbabwe border Dumi had to leave the vehicles to visit a  friend to borrow some money. When he got back, only one vehicle had been allowed through and the agent had been blocked by the Zimbabwe government.   Dumi by this time was extremely stressed and exhausted. He was kept waiting for hours, threatened with the police and was getting desperate when the manager walked by. She was sympathetic to what was happening and eventually, after several more hours, sorted the situation out.

The great day came at last, the lorry was driven to the school and unloaded into the classrooms. As there had been a great deal of rain over the preceding months everyone was concerned about the lorry sinking into the mud. After much conflicting advice from all directions a suitable area was chosen. The lorry was carefully parked there….. and immediately sank in the mud! Despite valiant effort with spades the situation got worse; a tractor was fetched, which also sank in the mud.

Meanwhile people were gathering for the official opening of the distribution. Representatives had come from the education authority, the local government. The Senetor President thanked Dumi for his initiative and effort. Other officials also spoke and then it was Dumi’s turn. He emphasised that he had not bought any of the goods but that every single thing given was a genuine goodwill gift from people in England.

And finally

In his speech the education authority representative sent thanks for all the equipment sent from schools here but mentioned that the greatest need was for more classrooms as some children were still being taught outside under the trees.

This has been an exciting and sometimes nervewracking adventure for Dumi and his friends. Many lessons have been learned, not least the extreme kindness and generosity of the people in and around Coventry. The hard work, the response, the expense, the genuine care and enthusiasm shown, the difficulties,  the joy,  the logistics, the need, the gratitude … all these have exceeded our expectations.  Only Dumi has experienced and can tell the impact and the gratitude  felt in his father’s village. Ask him!

Within a few days Dumi appeared at the front door to announce, “I’ve found a lorry and  bought it.  Will Michael come and take a look at it ?” And so it all began.

On inspection, the lorry  proved to be in very good condition and the seller reduced the price when he learned the purpose.  But there were two problems:

–  the MOT was due to run out in a few weeks, and Dumi did not want the hassle and expense of renewing it,– and how on earth were they going to fill this 18 ton lorry in such a short time.

An unfounded worry as it turned out.    Once the word went out to family, friends, church, Circuit and District, stuff poured in.  Dumi was asking for items which were no longer needed and surplus to requirements, such things as clothes, household goods, furniture, toys, books etc.   He was adamant that he was not asking for money, and in fact never mentioned it over the weeks. However, individuals, couples and churches did quietly slip him some small and not so small amounts.

It was a great joy to Dumi to meet and greet and pray with them.   On the third day he was still taking things to outlying areas when the van got stuck in the mud. Even the oxen summoned to help were unsuccessful and a manual winch had to be called into service: even then eight or nine men had to help.The last few things were quickly snapped up and still there were people disappointed and upset that they had to go home empty handed.

Even those of us who saw the huge amount of things that were tightly packed into the lorry – floor to ceiling – can only just get a glimpse of the immense need there is.    One contribution that was greeted with great delight was several sets of football kits given by local Junior football clubs. Even more welcome were about thirty footballs. Unfortunately only one pair of football boots accompanied them so we can visualise several  teams of eager  junior teams, all well kitted out but with bare feet!   The school also benefitted greatly from donations of pencils, paper, crayons, books, fabric, sewing machines, as well as computers. (These can only be used in certain areas of the school due to the partial electric supply.) donations were quite crucial to the success of the project for which Dumi, the people of his father’s village and the school were deeply grateful.

Meanwhile the negotiations  for  the purchase of the lorry went on and the Bennett’s front room was rapidly filling up. It became a standing joke that, if anything was put down in the front room, it was likely to end up in Zimbabwe.   We guess more than one unintentional donation was made that way!

Then the next problem arose. Where to keep the lorry and store all the stuff?Valerie’s son Julian, who has a warehouse, came to the rescue.  Both lorry and goods could be stored there;  in the event Julian and his wife Siobhan took a keen interest and actively helped with the project.

Both Dumi and Michael became increasingly busy speeding around the area collecting all manner of things. To help, Dumi bought a Ford Transit van which facilitated things no end.   People’s generosity and enthusiasm were amazing and much appreciated.

As the departure date approached, Dumi was kept very busy with all the logistic, technicalities and legalities of sending a lorry (and now a van)  by sea to Walvis Bay in Namibia, the nearest port.

The plan was that Dumi and Michael would fly, meet the vehicles at the port and take them overland to Zimbabwe. When the departure date had been verified, things really became urgent and the date was set for loading the lorry. On a clear cold morning in November, Michael and Valerie arrived early at the warehouse to ‘supervise’ the loading as Dumi was hospitalised with food poisoning and his body was covered with lumps.

Now the question was “How could we fit all this stuff into the lorry?” Julian and two of his staff worked like mad men.An 18 tonne lorry filled to the ceiling front to back! It was amazing.

 

The journey

A week later, Dumi having recovered, a little group gathered to bless the lorry and van on their way. A driver had been employed to drive the lorry, Dumi was driving the van and Michael followed to bring Dumi back. Michael immediately lost the convoy, but that’s another story! When the date of the vehicles’ arrival in Walvis Bay was confirmed, Dumi and Michael went on to the internet to book their tickets, Dumi was booked to fly in early December but when they started to book for Michael they discovered that all Michael’s journeys fell into the Christmas period and the fares were just too expensive to be contemplated, so Michael’s venture was postponed.

When Dumi arrived at Walvis Bay, the first problem was discovered:  both vehicles had been broken into during the voyage.The next drawback was that it was a bank holiday, and then the weekend, so Dumi, his brother and the hired driver had to hang around for several days at extra expense. All through the journey the border crossings were a worry and unexpected extra expense. Each time an agent had to be found and employed to facilitate the clearance and take the vehicles through.

The distribution itself took three days. On the first day the clothes were given out. The system decided on was that some of the teachers and members of the parent teacher committee would each deal with one person at a time. They would assess them and choose three garments to give them.This soon had to be reduced to two and then to one each but this was still not enough. At the same time someone was recording names and addresses of recipients.

The next day Dumi went with the van (the lorry still being stuck in the mud) to take blankets and sheets to the housebound and to the nearby clinic. He also took some rice that had been donated and gave it to the clinic. This had to be done in secret because the government would have confiscated it if they had known about it.

Now everything came to a halt because of Christmas.

Distribution

As soon as possible after Christmas Dumi began to make phone calls to get clearance for the goods to be distributed. He realised that the politicians were trying to influence the distribution to be made under their umbrella. However, he managed to avoid any political involvement by convincing the powers that be that this was a gift from churches in England in a spirit of Christian friendship.

The next was to set up a committee ( how very Methodist!) that involved community and the school in order to achieve a workable system of distribution. This involved Dumi in travelling backward and forwards between Bulawayo and the village, a journey of 280 km.