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Selected Text Messages from Mona’s iPhone: January 14

Friday:  7:55 am.

Thursday was very busy at African University.  Charlie, Deb, and I had an hour visit with the Vice Chancellor, while others had tour of campus.  Kelly enjoyed the librarian’s tour because they had great archives of Methodism and Zimbabwe.

At 11:00, we had a group meeting with about 10 deans, the librarian, the information officer, and the registrar. They have an acting Dean who had been a diplomat for 20 years, in Portugal and Mozambique.  The Education Dean is from Sierra Leone.  His 5 children have never been to Zimbabwe.

We had lunch in the cafeteria.  Delicious.  I had red beans, rice, greens, and slaw. We talked more.

Then had a meeting with our kids and theirs to plan the next two work days at school.

Then to orphanage with 8 homes housing 74 kids and two babies.  It costs $50.00 a month to sponsor one child.  Lovely flower gardens at each house.  TV with VCR was showing the movie Mary Poppins.  One Roald Dahl book on crocodiles.  The rest are in bad shape.  The kids flocked to us, mostly 2,3, and 4 year olds.  They hung on to our students.  Wanted their pictures.

Then we went to one of three Methodist hospitals in Zimbabwe.  Terrible.  Have new X-Ray machine, but no processor.  I peeked in the dental building and matron gave me a crochet phone case  She makes them in her spare time.  Very touching gesture.

Dr.  Tagwira invited Charlie, Deb, Kelley, and me to charming White Horse Inn on top of mountain overlooking Mozambique.  Their academic heads came too.  Extraordinary conversation, setting, and food.  Best mushroom soup ever.  Conversation kept returning to online courses and learning from us. Issue, the former diplomat, in business management, interested in leadership classes.  Vice Chancellor interested in recruitment.  Raising funds.

All buildings built by Methodists.  Chapel by Koreans.  Clinic by North Texas Conference.

Friday morning.

African University college kids like our kids.  Lots of laughing. Flirting.  Lovely campus.  Tons of flowers. Bookstore is closed.  Nothing to sell.  Charlie emphasized that alumni buy college logo stuff.  Also stressed that alumni are a funding source.

We are waiting in parking lot with African University kids.  Will sign off now to talk with them.

Friday afternoon.

Saungweme school.  Our kids and African Universit kids left AU around 8:45 to go to this rural and poor school. It was about 5 miles from road, and cars would not make it.  So they walked at least 1 Kilometer with supplies.  Innocent’s 4 wheel drive was only car that could make it.

Meanwhile, Charlie Deb, Kelly, and I were touring campus with 1 1/2 hour stop in air-conditioned library.  Then Innocent and Samba came to get us.  Innocent left his car at muddy road and drove us to the site.

Oh, my.  It is a run-down, decrepit tobacco building that houses the 5 classrooms.  Kids cut grass with slashes.

We are now talking to Amos the headmaster.

Friday night.

My feet keep swelling.  Maybe because on feet a lot.  We will be home in less than a week.

I started using the water purifier pin yesterday because Jim and Sue aren’t making our water, and I hate to ask Simon who runs the hotel for all the water I need.  It works fine.

A hotel guy at Victoria Falls charged my iPhone battery, and it needs it again.  Hope I find a solution.  I am outside on grounds of la rochelle.  Lovely flowers.  Birds.  Wind through trees.  Will go now to our daily debriefing.


Selected Texts from Mona for January 12

7:45 am Wednesday.  We are waiting in line of cars for petrol.  5 cars are ahead of us.  We are heading east to game park after night at Holiday Inn.

Note to all loved ones of the bungee jumpers and zipline gliders.  All are happy, healthy,  proud, and bringing home feats of heroic skills.  Only Kate will never bungee again–after all, she has done it at the 7th Natural Wonder of the World.  Did I say that Alec bungeed with great skill?  He did.

Yesterday’s plane was on time at Bulawara and Harare.  Rain here in Harare.  On last step, Deb turned to check on me and slipped and fell.  Twisted knee and hurts this morning.

Holiday Inn huge step up from Murewa and a grand canyon step down from Victorial Falls Hotel.  No baboons.  Or towels.

Ate good supper and breakfast.  Saw some British Business Men.  They were not friendly to us.

Now driving to game park.  Sima driver has decided not to get gas as too expensive.  We are following Jim, Charlie, Kelly, and Sue in a truck hauling van with luggage.

Saw 5-6 schoolchildren waiting alongside road with 5-6 stork like birds.

Land is flat with low scrub trees.  Road is similar to a poor Pennsylvania road.

Took 4 stops for gas.  Past empty, dilapidated factories and large homes.

Sima is shaking van to get every ounce of diesel.

Deb bought 2 stunning grass baskets.

Left ranch about 3:00 and on way to La Rochelle near Mutari.  Got great close up photos of giraffes, lions, black rhinos, white rhinos, impala, buffalo and elephants.  Mona and Deb got photos with 30 yr male elephant.

Charlie, Mona, Kate, Maggie, and Alex feed by hand a black Rhino.  He opens mouth, and we put food on tongue.

On the road at 4:35.  Rain is pouring down.  So much, it is white.  I am in front seat, wiping off steam on the windshield with a rag.

Bungee Jumping, Zip Lining, and Hippos: Selected Text Messages from Mona


Jan 11: Yesterday on Victoria Falls hotel drive, we saw two wart hogs butting heads.  In my room, I look out the window and see a troop of baboons.  Leading the troop was one old baboon missing a left paw.  Following at the end were mothers–one baby under belly, another on her back.

At sunset cruise on Zambezi river, we saw crocodiles, birds and ten hippos bathing.  Two baby hippos were resting on their mama’s backs.  We saw the sun setting behind the trees.

We ate dinner under the stars.  Dancers and singers and drummers.

Our Hotel at Victoria Falls is 5 star. On scale of 1-10, the food is a 20.

At back of hotel, we walk down to jungle junction to eat and we see huge railroad trustle bridge over falls with steam rising.

Bungee jumpers are Maggie, Kate, Colin, and Christian.

The Falls is beautiful.  We are waiting to watch bungee jumpers.  iPhone battery running low.  Will try to send photos.

Charlie and Jim are about to zip line.  It is cheaper.

Chris just jumped.  He is still on rope.  Can’t see him from here.

All jumpers are safe.  Zip liners too.  Zip liners include Laura, Catherine, Marissa, Dwei, and Mona.  It was glorious!

Updates via Text Message


JAN 8. Sat morn. It’s raining.  Going to breakfast and then a 3 hour drive to clinic to give out 1000 malaria nets.

When Charlie first visited, 14 out of 15 babies died.  After the clinic, 14  out of 15 survive!

At the ceremony, Charlie let me present the Medical pack that cost us $500, but is worth $10,000.  When we visited the clinic, rooms were clean.  Women and men’s ward of three beds each.  The cost is one dollar, but no one is turned away.  All medicine is free.

At Dindi clinic ceremony, 800 people were waiting for us.  Ten or so women began singing as we stepped out of the truck and van.

“Charlie Moore” and “McDaniel College” were repeatedly mentioned in Shona language.  McDaniel banner prominently displayed.

The McDaniel kids–Maggie and Catherine–presented info about malaria.  Then Chris, Laura, Marissa, and Kwea acted out skits on using malaria nets.

The crowd laughed when Kwei the mosquito stung Chris when he used the net as a pillow and got fever, chills, and vomited and then died.  Dramatically.

Then Marissa and Laura showed how to properly use net and the mosquito was unsuccessful. Then two children pretended to be mosquitoes.  After that, all kids lined up–youngest first to receive net, candy, and a balloon.  Adults were at the end of the line.  The remaining 200 nets were given to the minister to pass out at church.

This afternoon our students and the high school prefects took a hike on the path up the mountain with the tower.

The Zimbabwe students were Wesley, Hazel, Tafara, and Isabel, who all want to be lawyers.  Gerard wants to be a doctor.  Partson an accountant.  Tanya a nutritionist. Nyasha an accountant, and Hilary a boy who studies art wants to be either a lawyer or a meteorologist..  They are extremely polite and poised.  Tafara knows the same Korean dramas that Laura knows.

Wesley is captain of rugby team and leader of all the percepts.

The Zimbabwe students are extremely attentive in class.  No misbehavior.  They sit on the floor, benches, or old wooden chairs for hours.  They understand that school is a privilege, and they truly show this at every moment. They show respect for elders, and for teachers.

The children laugh easily in class and in informal groups.

Partson and Chris are talking about electricity.  Here, the power goes off and people just accept it and continue.  Rich areas don’t suffer so much from power outages.

Jan 9. We are in the geography room, waiting for the 7 pm ceremony to begin.  58 chairs to set up. The picture is of the McDaniel Ladies in their new Sunday dresses.

JAN 9.  THE SUNDAY SERVICE: The program has started.  Our kids sang Hosannah and are now being shown up by 11 precepts singing Messiah Our King Shall Lead Higher and Higher.

JAN 10: 7:15 am. In Van on way to Harare.  Saw a guy on the road wearing a Texas Longhorn T shirt.  Picture is of McDaniel ladies in new Sunday Dresses.

Jan 10. 9:00 am. We are at UMC house in outskirts of Harare where we will store our luggage as we go to Victoria falls.  Large pond with Rock waterfall.  Garden and yard lovely.  5 ft. tall geraniums.

Cool breeze.  Green land and trees.  360 degree view of mountains.

Charlie Moore is a hero in this province.  In ceremonies, people praise him.  He said last night that too much has been said about him.

Kelly wants to tell Marty, “Hi.”

Charlie is talking to Zimbabwe Air now.  We’ll be leaving soon.

The plane is here now.

NOTE: The photo below of the group on the Zambezi River was sent via iPhone a few hours later.

January 7 Post from Mona


Hi, Ya’ll.

We are all fine.

Simba our van driver and Charlie have just dropped Deb and me off at the Post Office Internet Cafe while they go to the supermarket to buy bread, peanut butter, and jelly for our lunch tomorrow.  We are going to Dindi on Saturday, an all day trip, to drop off malaria nets and UMC clinic. 

Yesterday, Alan, the DS wanted us to see 3 UMC missions in this province.  Charlie had asked him for the places that have the greatest needs.  The first mission has 46 kids in a classroom–twice a day.  They call it hot seating.  The first group leaves and the second group comes in. The rules, mission, vision statements are similar to U.S. Schools.   The school is not in as good of shape as Murewa.  The library is one room with old English fiction on one side of the room with old Shona books on the other side.  All decrepit.  New book of UNICEF texts sit in the middle of the floor; have to step over boxes.  Children have to share UNICEF texts.  At Murewa, 2 students share one book. I didn’t ask about this school.

We then piled back in the van and the truck and went to a clinic.  They have everything neat and clean.  The 2 nurses were in clean white uniforms.  Patients wait outside under a roof.  There were about 4 babies; one especially cute.  Maggie, Kelly, Alec, Charlie, Mona all held the baby and had pictures taken. 

The lady minister and her husband joined us for a presentation of 2 med pacs we brought. Each cost $500 but worth $10,000 of medicines.  The minister then showed us her office–no computer–and church.  She needs more benches.  And her home, she pointed out, has no water; she must use an outside facility.  She was explaining these needs because Alan had asked her earlier to say what she needed.  A group of about 10 orphans sat outside.  Only 2 girls.  One girl held baby. School starts next week.

The next stop was at a historical site of a church.  Sorry don’t know names. I didn’t know I was coming to town and didn’t bring notes. 

Rocky, rocky.  Old church.

Then Alan wanted to show us the first mission–where we walked in tall grass.  Once the group chief trusted the doctor missionary, he asked him to build him a bath tub at the well.  It’s a rock construction, with different levels.  It looks overgrown to me and not much to look at it, but for some reason Alan the DS wanted to see it.  Banana trees growing around it.

Eucalyptus trees grow here.  So does mint; we smell it.

The food is getting less delicious as the week passes.  Maybe they  know they don’t have to buy as much. Today’s lunch was french fries, pork chops, potato salad, cole slaw, and plenty of mangoes–but they stick in my teeth.

Last night when we got back, our wonderful McDaniel kids went back to the dorm to work.  At supper, Joseph gave us totem names.  Charlie and Deb are monkeys, which mean they are branch managers.  Kwei is a lion.  Alec is a python.  Joseph said I was first a leopard, but Tendai said I should be a pigeon–because I had read Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.  Sigh……So now I’m the pigeon.

Most of the kids are working at the site this afternoon, but there are a few of us who are going to the 3:00 pm ceremony for the prefects.  These student leaders have had their training and we will be there for the award ceremony. 

At lunch today, Tina and Teckla asked if I was going to teach again the younger ones this afternoon.  I had not planned that, but Tina said they are looking forward to it and they were planning for me to do it at 2.  So we settled for 4 pm.  They both listened to me on the first day and they think I’m a good teacher.  Teckla’s son told her that I was a very good teacher.

We have terrific photos and 4 minute of flip video of my first presentation. But only 4 minutes as batteries ran out.

Will see if we can film this afternoon.

We leave tomorrow at 7 am.  Sunday we go to church.  Many of us girls will be wearing our new African dresses.  Monday morning we leave early and when we get to Harare, we will  store our luggage, carrying just our backpacks with 1 change of clothing.  We will take Zimbabwe Air and will fly to Victoria Falls, which is on the opposite of the country, northwest.

Charlie has just returned and we are signing off.

Oh, I forgot to say that Laura’s bites were probably bed mites because she had stretched out on her bed cover instead of the sheets.  She is fine, working at the site.

Love to all,

Picture taken Jan. 5

Taken of the Zimbabwe Project Group on January 5th, 2011


We are all at the Murewa Internet Cafe where there are 9 computers and you get 30 minutes for $1.  The twitter and the blog take too long to sign in so…

We are fine.  Today, we are taking a tour of Murewa, courtesy of the UMC District Superintendent, Alan G. We call him the DS.

Laura and Deb have gone to the town doctor because Laura has bumps on her arms.  We are thinking that they might be bed mite bites.  We are getting extra medication because Catherine has a few bumps, too.

My legs and feet are swollen, but I didn’t think to say anything until today.  Benadryl is the pill for that, so my feet are already feeling better.  We are in 5,000 altitude.  The weather is not hot for a Texan.  There are breezes.  But still we drink plenty of water.

A couple of days ago, there was a presentation of the 7 wireless laptops that Charlie brought. We had the McDaniel banner up.  Charlie took videos.  The DS says that the computers are for connections, and he welcomes the connection to McDaniel.

The students are work horses.  They have worked on Tuesday and Wednesday at the dorm site, picking up rocks and debri, sandpapering new walls, sweeping, and some painting.

Yesterday, Charlie, the DS, and Alec had to go to Harare to get paint.  All day affair.

Yesterday morning, I worked at the dorm site, but yesterday afternoon, I got to read to about 15 children.  They are on break now.  Tendai, (2nd grade teacher and the DS wife) sat beside me.  Don’t LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS took a long time to read aloud. Tendai and I team taught.  Her teaching skills are similar to ours. She called on someone to translate in Shona.  I then read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, which was tricky.  I shared Deb’s sister’s book–HAIR DANCE.  I explained my book OWNEY, which doesn’t translate well to Shona.–They don’t know where Albany, NY is.

Then Tendai divided them into 4 groups and had one leader to go through the book again.  Then they came back to summarize.  Every child had to say something.  Catherine had given me jolly rogers, so each child got two.  Their attention span is longer than US kids.

The teachers are preparing our meals, and they volunteer their time.  When the electricity goes out, they prepare it over fire. We eat things like sadza, roasted potatoes, kale, chicken, pork, salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers.  We have cole slaw of cabbage and carrots.  It is all delicious.  Deb says that she always feels better eating in Cameroon because the food have no preservatives.

People speak English, although we can not always understand because it is not their first language and because phrasing is different.

Charlie is our real leader.  There is a two year old in Harare named Charlie Moore, both names are used.

Student Information

Please read the following attachments:

Information about the 2011 Trip to Zimbabwe

Dr. Tagwira from Africa University on Campus

Zimbabwe from the Ground Up