Our Journey so far…

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Zimbabwe Day 4. No one can quite prepare you for Africa on your first visit.  No one tells you about the intensity of the heat after a long dreary British winter, the dust – oh the dust, the crazy driving and j-walking or the wonderful, wonderful people, their charm, generosity and positive attitude.

Image of our camp in Zimbabwe Africa

During this week we’ve travelled to Chimanimani in the eastern highlands – a mere four hours from Harare, we’ve met with psychiatrists and psychologists, and we’ve visited the Ministry and met with officials for Mental Health and Rehabilitation.  I even met with a village elder and got to harvest a watermelon to take home – these people are so generous when they have so little, so inspiring, so humbling. Our plans have changed, evolved and changed again.  No doubt they will need to as we ascertain need, funding and bureaucratic expectations.  The vision is clear however, a residential rehabilitation centre and an outreach programme for the local communities; a project that can be replicated nationwide.

Initially we had thought we’d be renovating a building in the north east of the country, an hour from Matare, in the most beautiful landscape, however after careful thought and consideration, this may be better used as a retreat/renewal house. From over 5000miles away its difficult ascertain distance and logistics… so being here has enabled us to review feasibility and ensure we can deliver our plans effectively. A centre in Harare or its surrounding areas is more appropriate.

Zimbabwe dusty streets for a drug rehabilitation centre

Working with Tiritose has enabled me to look at ongoing opportunities for staff exchange training programmes and we hope to be able to continue our relationship in the future.  We aim to enable staff from Western Counselling and other UK based services to travel to Zimbabwe to work with the project, and also to have counsellors and managers travelling to Western Counselling to learn about programme delivery, therapeutic techniques and programme development. This means ensuring ease of entry into Zimbabwe and minimal queueing for a visa on arrival… unless you’ve ever done this you will never understand how important this is!!!

Next week we meet with the Ministry to develop a Memorandum of Understanding, where we establish our objectives and agree terms for an ongoing working relationship.  Bring it on…

Check out next week our progress and adventures in Zimbabwe.

Western Counselling