Remembering the holidays in Zimbabwe

As we approach the end of 2009, I want to share some photographs from the wonderful holiday party that I hosted for Tairo students last year, in 2008.  During the extreme financial crisis at the end of 2008, Tariro was fortunate to receive a grant of $1,000 from the Rubatano center on Whidbey Island, enabling us to provide each of our students’ families with a gift box of food.  In addition, our holiday party gave our students the opportunity to share a good meal, enjoy each others’ company, and experience the progress made by the traditional music and dance ensemble, which performed at this event for each other, and for invited guests.

Here are some of the images from the party:

Tariro students gather in anticipation of the holiday party!

The students were all very excited to have the opportunity to attend the party, and all we saw was big smiles all day long!

Students listen attentively to a chipendani performance by invited guest Sekuru Tute Chigamba

We were fortunate to have Sekuru Tute Chigamba attend the party as a special guest, sharing his wisdom and music with us during a performance on a traditional instrument, the chipendani.  For orphaned and vulnerable children who grow up in urban areas, the chance to share time with an elder such as Sekuru Chigamba is an important opportunity to learn about culture, history, and tradition.

Chembira primary school students joined Tariro's traditional dance group for the performance

As our students rehearse together every Saturday with students from Chembira Primary School, we invited both groups to perform together at the holiday party.  The Chembira students were very excited to have the chance to attend the party alongside Tariro students, further cementing relationships between the two groups.

Tariro students present clay pots during mbira dance

This occasion was only the second time our students had performed in front of an audience.  However, many of the attendees said that this was the best youth traditional dance performance they had ever seen!  This was a wonderful confirmation of the work we’ve done to introduce our students to traditional music and dance, which represents a way for Tariro to gain visibility and recognition within the local community and further abroad.  You can experience out students’ musical talents on the CD “Maungira EZimbabwe,” available online through CDBaby and iTunes.  Check them out!

Relaxing after a successful performance!

After a great performance, our students relaxed and enjoyed each others’ company, in addition to sharing a traditional Zimbabwean meal of chicken and rice.

Capoeira demonstration by members of Capoeira Folha Seca

Students also participated in a workshop on capoeira, a Brazilian martial art, held by members of the group Capoeira Folha Seca.  Even some of the very youngest students had the courage to go inside the roda, or circle, and play capoeira, and all of our students expressed an interest in learning more about this wonderful form of cultural expression.  We hope to partner with CFS in the future to provide additional opportunities for our students to learn more capoeira!

Impromptu pick-up game after the party!

But my favorite part was the impromptu basketball game that happened after the party!  It was so great to see the girls out on the court in their traditional dance uniforms.

More basketball...

And another photo of the game… I just couldn’t resist.

A group photo from the party

The party was a wonderful way for me to get to know our students better, and to share our work with a variety of friends in Zimbabwe, including guests from the US Embassy and other organizations who have supported us in the past.  Most importantly, though, it was an opportunity for our students, who have had to deal with the trauma and grief of losing their parents to poverty and HIV/AIDS, to relax and enjoy themselves during the holidays.

My appreciation goes out to Erin Folk and Debby Chen for co-sponsoring and co-hosting the party with me, and taking the photographs I’ve included in today’s post.  I can’t wait to host another holiday party for our students in December 2010, when I plan to be back in Zimbabwe.  Would anyone else like to come along with me?  If so, please let me know.  I would love to have some company on my trip, and some willing hands to help with Tariro’s work.

Happy New Year to everyone, and thank you for your support of Tariro’s programs over the past year.  We are looking forward to sharing more exciting news about our work, and great things from our students, with you in 2010!

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