AtoZ-Aid to Zimbabwe

€18,722 of €20,000 goal

Raised by 85 people in 11 months
I went to the country of my birth - Zimbabwe - for 3 months to help out at Emerald Hill children’s home for 100 vulnerable children and the school for 300 children who are deaf.  Now that I’m back in Ireland I hope I’ve learned enough by being immersed in the country to continue helping its development  from Ireland.   Thank you for supporting me in doing this initiative
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Good morning everyone
Well believe it or not a couple of months have gone by since I updated you all. To tell you the truth I haven't really done much in the intervening time as I've started running a Meditation Centre in the heart of Dublin and it has been all consuming of my time and energy.

What I have done is respond to appeal from Sr Agnes who runs the convent at Emerald Hill. I'll attach her video for your perusual. She was seeking support for the ongoing running of the hospitals the order still runs so I've sent her a contribution which will help feed everyone in the hospital for another day.

I have also continued my efforts to support the fundraising within Zimbabwe in developing a Corporate Social Responsibility campaign that could be launched in 2019 to try and get local companies to sponsor the overall costs of supporting a child in the Emerald Hill Childrens Home so we'll see how we get on with that in the New Year.

I managed to attend a working conference attended by all the agencies in Ireland helping countries abroad to prioritise and confirm Irish Aid's strategy regarding contributing to their work. The good news is they want to develop an approach to harness businesses contribution to employment generation and knowledge transfer which is just what I think will help Zimbabwe get back on its feet and they are going to continue their long standing support of Southern Africa.

Finally as we start gearing up for Christmas can I make a renewed appeal to your generosity. I would love to send a Christmas present to each of the children in Emerald Hill - 5$ for the little ones, $10 for the early teens and $15 for the older ones to allow them to get themselves something they need. I also would like to send $20 for each of the staff to allow them to have a nice meal with their family for Christmas. All in all this would require €1,500.

As always thanks for your support. May you all have a happy and peaceful Christmas and a wonderful 2019.

Best Regards
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Hello everyone
Well you probably think I’ve fallen over the edge of a cliff it’s been so long since I corresponded with you all. So apart from my summer holiday with the family in Kerry there wasn’t much I could progress with in Ireland as we had to see how the election in Zimbabwe went. You probably all saw the coverage of the election, the protests after and the court challenge of the result. Unfortunately the euphoria and sense of hope that was created when Mugabe was retired has subsided and dissipated as business and investment confidence is low. The economy has continued to deteriorate and the cash crisis has deepened causing prices to sky rocket further. What’s very worrying is the outbreak of cholera in Harare in the past month. Please God it is contained.

When I was growing up in Zim there was sanctions imposed on the country due to the declaration of independence from Britain unilaterally. This forced the country to become self sufficient where ever possible. Everything was grown, mined or manufactured locally. Unfortunately the situation now is quite the opposite as nearly everything is imported with the collapse of commercial farming and industry that has occurred over the past 30 years. Thus the potential to redevelop the country is immense. In addition the water, sanitation and transport infrastructure hasn’t been maintained or upgraded to keep pace with the urbanising of the population. Hopefully the new government will address the issues constraining business and development and bring stability and confidence to allow investment to flourish and benefit all the people.

Apart from monitoring the external environment I have been bevearing away trying to get support for the children’s home from the Irish Dominicans. They were very tied up with the Pope’s visit to Ireland which was a huge event.

The good news is I have been successful at getting goods needed into the country. Firstly 6 months supply of essential oils to be used for massage therapy with the children, and secondly A level maths, physics, chemistry and biology text books. Finally I’ve managed to research the list of drugs needed in the country to treat the children with cancer and to my joy found that 75% of them are manufactured by about 15 pharmaceutical companies. So I’ll be writng to them to see if they can donate the supply needed or help fund them.

The last thing to tell you about is on the government side of things. I went to a meeting where the organisation that supports volunteers going abroad presented their campaign asking everyone to stop supporting children’s homes and only support projects helping children within a community home/family/foster setting which I found to be too idealistic and not respectful of the different cultures and stages of development different countries are at. I am scheduled to attend the Irish government’s consultation on their development aid strategy which is to concentrate on education especially girls and focus on Africa

So hopefully I’ll have some more positive news for you all before Christmas. As always thanks for your continued support.

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Hi everyone
Well believe it or not it's been a month already since I last updated you all. Well first things first - I got the all clear from the scans I had on my return and achieved reaching the 5 year since diagnosis milestone - so happiness abounds. I'm sure being in the sun and such a nurturing environment in Zimbabwe also contributed to the positive result. The oncologist is happy to wait another 18 months before scanning again so thats a great vote of confidence.

The next thing is I added up all the receipts for what I've spent of your donations so far and it comes to €6,596 so I have €1,666 left to spend. If you have any preferences on how I should prioritise then please let me know. So far the breakdown is as follows:
1) Funding & Marketing - € 1,595; 2) Education - €1,579; 3) Activities for the Children - €1,199; 4) Water, Sanitation & Hygiene - €679; 5) Medical Care - €599; 6) Food & Transport - €945.

More good news is a colleague I met while in Zim, who went to the same Dominican convent as me and whose brother was in my brother's class, sent me photos of her bags packed in London on her way back to Zim with hearing aids and accessories donated from the head of the audiological rehab at a leading London hospital. Isn't that fantastic?. Now just pray she doesn't get charged import duty! My son and daughter got away with it when they arrived to visit me with a case filled with tennis balls, badmington shuttles, pencil grips and 7 kilos of chocolate for Easter donated by Cadburys in Coolock so there's hope....

The other great news is Irish Aid have concluded the process we started in February when we met for a €10,000 grant / year so the team at Emerald Hill have done themselves proud. Please God this will put them in good stead for other applications to come. I am meeting Misean Cara this week to progress a funding request I made of them in April so watch this space....

I attended the Misean Cara's conference on 'An Exploration of Missionary and Faith Based Approaches to Development'. It was wonderful to hear from some amazing people of the work being done in so many parts of the world so desperately in need. The overriding message was one of empowering beneficiaries; devising solutions from having a personal, lived experience in the environment; and being there through think and thin for the long haul - beyond governments and generations. Food for thought.....

I also managed to attend a meeting at the EU Parliament office regarding the EU's Development budget 2019. Most interesting to hear from a learned panel on the process and priorities. It's good to hear the EU / African Agreement is the oldest still influencing the budget. Understandably the budget is being agreed through the lens of the refugee crisis thus the focus is on developing countries neighbouring Europe and then Africa. Humanitarian aid is a separate budget as is the peace keeping budget. The Development budget if approved will be increased by 13% as it includes security and migrant support services within Europe.

Typically 7 year contracts are signed for Overseas Development Aid. There is a realisation that business partnerships are required to enable development. AN EU / Africa summit was held last year which made clear Africans want jobs. Ireland is committed to its development effort in Africa.

Zimbabwe needs political stability. The government elected needs to know what it wants and the impact of its decisions. The country needs to have legislation and an environment that enables business to invest and thrive in partnership for sustainable development of the country. So that'll take some time.... perhaps I should be doing a PhD on this...

The other contact I've made is with BISA - Business Ireland Southern Africa in case it can be a conduit to me getting Irish businesses excited about investing in and trading with Zimbabwe. BISA are reviewing their strategy and are going to contact me when that is completed.

Finally before I go on for too long, I had the pleasure of participating in a visit of the International Womens Forum London members to Ireland where Brexit and its impact was discussed at length. Not only was that very interesting but also to discuss Zimbabwe and who best to engage and how. It's evident trade agreements take 5-7 years to negotiate and companies take a couple of years to assess and decide new ventures. So there's much to research and many more people to chat to and obviously the political environment and proposed election in Zimbabwe to monitor before taking any concrete action as such.

So enjoy the summer and I'll be in touch as things materialise.
Best Regards
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Hello everyone
I'm finally back in Ireland after having a few weeks holiday in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa with family and friends. A few things have continued to be progressed in the meantime. The most exciting is the video attached which we produced to help campaign for funds to keep Emerald Hill Childrens Home operating. Please forward the youtube link https://youtu.be/BkYle1zV-Tg to all your contacts and associates. Thanks as always for all your support.

The classrooms at the school for the deaf have had their laptops, ebeams and projectors installed in time for the next school term. A friend of a friend of my brother's has commenced producing a 5 year property maintenance plan which will be costed and give priority to what issues need to be addressed first. My cousin has finished tagging all the valves and pipes involved in the multiple bores and water tanks using tags my sister sourced and a friend brought in her luggage from South Africa. My other cousin has finished painting the clothes horses we bought so they last longer outdoors. Another friend of my brother is investigating how to refurbish the playground equipment in the hostel for the boys who are deaf and to move it to a more suitable location where all the children at the School for the Deaf can use it during their break times.

While in South Africa I was able to go to Pretoria and meet the personnel at the Irish embassy and seek their advice on how best to support the development of Zimbabwe when back in Ireland. Now I'm back I'll be able to commence the investigation into what opportunities there are for businesses to engage as well as charitable initiatives. I attended the annual Dochas conference at Croke Park (Irish Association on International NGOs) on Building Support for Global Development which was most interesting and inspiring especially with regard to using digital gaming techniques to connect with young audiences on issues affecting society. At the end of the month I'm attending a discussion organised by the Irish Dominicans on approaches to international development.

That's all for now. I'll keep you updated as the weeks go by.
Please view the funding video we made
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€18,722 of €20,000 goal

Raised by 85 people in 11 months
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