Since our formation in 2008, Friends of Hlekweni has been able to support schools, peace education partners and the Zimbabwe Secondary Bursary Scheme using donations from a dedicated group of donors in the UK and internationally. Our small volunteer team in the UK and partners in Zimbabwe have used this money to best effect by keeping expenses low and spending the money where it counts most.
Over the last few years we looked ahead at how this work can continue effectively and reliably. Over that period we continued to raise funds and support our projects in Zimbabwe whilst recognising that our small team would find our work untenable at some point in the near future. Rather than face the likelihood of the work coming under increasing risk and stress we agreed to bring our activity to a managed closure by the end of 2022. This decision was not taken lightly. All of us have been in contact with the realities of life in Zimbabwe for some years and know full well that the needs of the people will be no less in the future.
We have supported all our projects in full until the end of the year and are hugely grateful to donors for your steadfast support - thank you.
Initially, FoH supported the Hlekweni Friends Rural Training Centre, set up in 1967 and supported by Quakers around the world. Hlekweni's mission was to give practical expression to Quaker testimonies in the most impoverished communities of Matabeleland, Zimbabwe, with a special focus on promoting reconciliation and nonviolence, and encouraging agricultural practices that enhance environmental sustainability. The Hlekweni community aimed to embody a commitment to equality, welcoming people from all backgrounds. The Centre closed in 2014, the concern having been laid down by Central and Southern Africa Yearly Meeting due to the centre becoming unsustainable in a period of worsening economic and political problems. Further information can be found at quakerafricainterest.org.uk and quakersintheworld.org
During the last few years, we have continued to:
Over $1m has been distributed to projects, including school meals schemes for over 2,000 students a day, bursaries for orphans in primary schools, re-usable sanitary pad packs, classrooms, textbooks, furniture, teacher accommodation, and support for peace-building.
The Zimbabwe Secondary Bursary scheme will be administered by Milton Keynes Quakers with a grant provided by Friends of Hlekweni to allow all the sponsored students to complete their secondary education. If you would like to contribute or know more about this scheme, please write to email@example.com.
Support for the peace building will continue, now organised by a new committee of Quakers which will raise funds for Alternatives to Violence Project Zimbabwe to support conflict resolution training and the Peace Clubs in Schools. You can contact the scheme at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Although the organisation has now closed, former Trustees will be pleased to share our experiences and help others involved in similar ventures. You can write to email@example.com.
The archives of Friends of Hlekweni has been deposited with Friends House Library, London along with a short account of the charity's work and legacy.
The Trustees are hugely grateful to our donors for your steadfast support and to our partners for their resilient work on the ground in Zimbabwe.