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Kellogg Foundation funds Africa University community development

 


Kellogg Foundation funds Africa University community development

 

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
UMNS photo by Mike DuBose

United Methodist-related Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe, serves 1,283 students.

Aug. 2, 2004                                                                           

 

By Andra Stevens*

 

MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)-- Africa University is taking on a new role in the life of one nearby local community.

The Chimanimani District, located 56 miles south of Mutare, along Zimbabwe’s border with Mozambique, has been a project of Africa University since 2000, following the devastation of Cyclone Eline. An effort that began with humanitarian assistance is evolving in scope and impact.

In June, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich. approved a $978,800 grant to Africa University and named the institution as a “local facilitating agency” for its program in the Chimanimani District.

In this role, the university has direct involvement in projects aimed at helping Chimanimani residents to improve food security and community health, increase family incomes, grow stronger, more effective institutions and leaders, and safeguard and promote local arts and culture.

“It’s actually an immense program that allows Africa University to use its faculty, its students, its research and training facilities, all its various competencies, to assist institutions right at the community level to improve overall quality of life,” said Oswald Dirwayi, the district facilitator for Chimanimani.

Dirwayi, and a colleague who serves as the business development officer for the area, receive their salaries and operational funds for their work from the Kellogg Foundation. The funds are disbursed through Africa University and the institution provides offices, equipment and other facilities.

Institutions that fail to meet the requirements for receiving money directly from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, such as Gwinyai Trust, are also receiving their grants through Africa University.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

The Kwang Lim Chapel at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

“For a long time, we simply watched helplessly as the moral and social fabric of our society got slowly eroded and the abundant talents of our people went to waste,” said G. Mazhande, director of Gwinyai Trust.

Now with an initial annual grant of $95,000, received in June, the Gwinyai Trust is encouraging the formation of local arts groups. So far, more than a thousand people and nine groups have been registered. The organization has introduced a weekly Wednesday afternoon gathering called “Padare” where parents and grandparents come to listen to, share with and counsel youth. Performers, especially those in the schools, are tackling issues such as gender imbalance, child abuse and HIV/AIDS in music and theatre. Baskets, pots and other local crafts fashioned from reeds, bark and clay are being exhibited and sold.

“Our ultimate aim is to wean people off begging, reduce poverty and inculcate a culture of self-reliance,” said Mazhande. “We shall forever be thankful to Africa University and the Kellogg Foundation for this golden chance.”

But the university’s role involves more than just handing out the money and giving an account of spending. The university also is charged with ensuring that local institutions are deeply involved in the effort and feel a sense of ownership so that they will help to sustain it.

To that end, it will train local leaders—members and staff of the Chimanimani Rural District Council and other small community-based organizations—and help to strengthen the participation of residents in planning and decision-making. Over the course of the two-year program, the university will help provide a strong foundation for community development.

One example is a $30,000 grant that supports collaboration on research and training between Africa University and the Zimbabwe Open University. Together, they hope to document local experiences, assist residents to try out various new approaches and strategies in a systematic manner, and share and assess their results.

In the case of the Mhakwe Irrigation Scheme, for example, where Africa University’s agriculture faculty has already been working, researchers will evaluate the impact of the effort on food supply in the community. Small-scale farmers will be encouraged to plant appropriate crops, manage the fertility of their soils and market surplus food crops.

 

 

“For Africa University, this continuing partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Chimanimani District is really a clear recognition of the impact of our work there so far and the relationships we’ve built,” said Rukudzo Murapa, the university’s vice chancellor. “There’s no question that we’ve matured as an institution and so has our capacity as an agent of change here in Zimbabwe and across Africa.”

Africa University is the only United Methodist Church-related, degree-granting institution on the continent of Africa. Launched in March 1992, Africa University’s mission is the serve the leadership and professional training needs of the nations of Africa. The university offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in agriculture, business, education, health sciences, the arts and social sciences, and theology.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was established in 1930 “to help people help themselves through practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future generations”.

To achieve the greatest impact, the Foundation targets its grants towards specific areas. These areas include health, food systems and rural development; youth and education, and philanthropy and volunteerism, information and communication technology, capitalizing on diversity, and social and economic community development. Grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the southern African countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.

 

*Andra Stevens is director of information at Africa University. Edward Chinhanu, an Africa University alumnus, contributed to this story.

 

News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

 

 

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