Last week in Harare

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July 22, 2011

After weeks of weeding through surveys and doing data entry and analysis, I had been looking forward to finally travelling in Zimbabwe. My last weekend here me, Patrick and Danielle (another IRD intern) went to Great Zimbabwe, which is a UNESCO world heritage site and it’s known for being the largest best preserved stone wall city in Southern Africa.

One of IRD’s country staff Mr. Charles Ncube’s family stays in Masvingo City which is near Great Zimbabwe, and he generously offered to drive us down to Masvingo which is south east of Harare and put us up at his home for the weekend as well. After driving for about 4 hours we finally got to Masvingo which is really a quaint little city with one main highway that goes straight through the city. We were warmly welcomed into Charles’s home by his wife and children, who were all impeccably dressed and patiently waiting for Charles to come home so that they could go to church. READ MORE

Finally settling down in Harare

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July 6, 2011

Some of the friends I have made here in Harare enjoying an afternoon together!

Some of the friends I have made here in Harare enjoying an afternoon together!

After having a memorable time in Buhera district, it has taken me a while to get used to the peacefulness and quiet nature of Harare and the IRD office.  In the last couple of weeks I have moved into a separate cottage of the IRD office and, in order to avoid things becoming too monotonous (from living at the same place that I work), I find myself going the extra mile in search of fun social events. Most of my time here in Harare has been occupied with work, now that the survey is done, Patrick (the other IRD intern) and I have to enter in all the data and analyze the information. The main purpose is to document impacts of the REVALUE program that were not expected in the original design and to use the information we collect to mobilize resources, so as to implement economic growth programs that impact orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). My main focus areas in the survey include the diet diversification of the children, so, I composed a diet diversity indicator based on the guidelines of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). That basically entailed a 24 hr household recall where we asked what the children had to eat the day before and we singled out children under 2 and asked different questions to reflect their breastfeeding needs. I was also in charge of the psychosocial aspects, so I adapted a set of questions based on a previous OVC survey conducted in Zambia. Lastly I constructed some questions on the basic health status of the children.

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Those who sow in tears will reap songs of joy

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June 23, 2011

One of the beneficiaries proudly stands by her traditional Zimbabwean kitchen, which displays all the pots, pans, and utensils very decoratively; this is one example of numerous others that I saw in Buhera.

I just returned from a ten-day trip out to the field in Buhera District/Murambinda, which is in the eastern part of Zimbabwe, only three and half hours away from the capital of Harare. It was ten days of no internet, no television, 6 a.m. bucket baths and constant power cuts, and despite all this, I really enjoyed my time there. The people were kind and very friendly and I finally got the chance to practice what little Shona I have learned. With no rainfall since the early months of the year, the landscape in Buhera is filled with dry grass, green bushes and trees but clear blue skies and sunshine almost every day. READ MORE

On African Soil

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June 2, 2011

It has been about two years since I touched down on African soil, but yet it feels like I never left. This summer I am interning with International Relief and Development (IRD) in the beautiful country of Zimbabwe. After a fun-filled time in the DC area attending a weeklong orientation, I boarded my first flight on Saturday, May 23rd at around 6 pm and landed in my final destination of Harare, Zimbabwe at 1 am Monday morning. Phew! That was a long journey.

Some of the programs IRD implements in Zimbabwe include the Restoring Livelihoods – Strengthening Value Chains (REVALUE) program, which increases incomes of 8,550 farmers by focusing on the value chains of groundnuts, sesame, sugar beans and paprika. IRD also started the Peri-Urban Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting (PROOF) program, which provides a medium-term solution to the critical safe water supply problem faced by some high-density area municipalities in Zimbabwe through the installation of rooftop rain water harvesting systems (RWHS). My work at IRD will mostly focus on examining the impacts of the REVALUE program on orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). READ MORE