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Jodie sees Oxfam change people's lives in Zimbabwe

Posted by Jodie Sandford Oxfam supporter

15th Feb 2012

Jodie Sandford's a mum with two children, who works in IT. She's also an Oxfam supporter, and she's agreed to fly to Zimbabwe and visit the charity's projects. Out there she'll be meeting people, asking questions - and reporting back in three guest blogs. Here's her second:

We went to meet the Mudzingwa family in a village called Mataruse. Their son Paradzai came to meet us, because the family homestead is not an easy place to find. They live about 3km off-road from the main town, so with Paradzai as our guide we left the dirt track roads and went between trees, over rocks and through streams to get there.

Paradzai is 21 years old and has just finished doing his A-levels. He wants to go to university, but the family simply can't afford it. It costs £600 per term so in total that would be approximately £3,800, not to mention the living expenses, books and materials. School books can be really expensive here. He recently lost one and he couldn't collect his A-level results until he'd replaced it. It cost the family more than £50! I found this outrageous. His family had to sell ten buckets of maize to pay for it. It's really frustrating for Paradzai, he wants to better himself but he's stuck.

While I was there I did some cooking and helped Lois, the mum of the family, to make 'sadza'. It's the staple food here, made from maize-flour and water, and looks like a sort of thick, starchy couscous. Whilst we were cooking, Lois commented on my hands. She was touching and feeling them and said: 'They are so soft!' She asked me if I worked and asked me to feel her hands too. They weren't rough like my Dad's hands (he's a builder) but they were hard - because she's an amazing, hard-working woman.

Before we could start cooking, we had to collect some water. Earlier on, I'd asked why they chose to live here so far away from anything, and Lois told me it was because there's a stream nearby. So when we went to get water I naively expected to see some running water. But no, it's a dried-up river bed, where they have to dig a hole to let the water seep up through the sand. I found this really hard.

We said our goodbyes and left to see what's being done to help change this situation - the massive Ruti dam project that's helping families grow more food. Oxfam has agreed with the government to give families plots of land to grow their crops on, and families are channeling water from the dam to feed these crops. It was stunning really. Until I'd seen these fields, I thought the maize I've been seeing in the fields along the roads in Zimbabwe was normal, but it's not, it's dying. The maize on Oxfam plots is HUGE in comparison. Literally double the size!

In these lush, green fields I met Ipaishe. She's been farming the land here for three harvests and her crops are so successful that she's been able to feed her mum and sisters, sell enough to build a granary and also give away some to her neighbours.

I can't tell you how amazing this was to hear and see for myself. This work really is changing people's lives.

See for yourself: Jodie's trip to Zimbabwe

Blog originally posted on Mumsnet Bloggers Network

Blog post written by Jodie Sandford

Oxfam supporter

More by Jodie Sandford