From US to Mutasa: Midzi returns to uplift people of her birthplace

Barbara Midzi (50) wants to lead the people of her home area out of poverty. Now based in US, Midzi was in Zimbabwe recently visiting the various projects that she has set up since 2000.

Barbara Midzi.
Barbara Midzi.

Her main objective is to empower and restore dignity and hope to the people in the rural areas of Mutasa through the provision of education and better health services.

“I come from this district and I have noted that there is virtually no governmental infrastructure here. Mutasa as a district lacks adequate educational and medical facilities. I believe that self-sufficiency is the key to lead people out of poverty. I feel that this could be accomplished through education and hard work,” Midzi said.

She believes in the Chinese saying “If you give a man a fish he will eat for a day. If you teach him how to fish he will eat for a lifetime.”

She has joined forces with donors and local legislators to organise the people to build a clinic themselves, with funding from donors and herself. She also launched an education programme that ensures that boys and girls from low-income families in rural areas go to and stay in school.

“We have assisted 86 local youths to acquire education – 50 primary, 30 secondary and six tertiary school students. One of the students recently completed his teacher-training course and is now working as a primary school teacher,” she said.

Martin Sibanda, a teacher, paid tribute to the foundation. “As an orphan, there was no one to help me complete my education. But Midzi has realised my dream and assisted me until I got my teaching diploma. She supplied everything for me,” he said.

A health programme supplies community clinics with medicines and equipment and money for those who cannot afford medical insurance. Midzi said she was working through partnerships with the United Church of Christ to provide free medical care to HIV/AIDS patients who cannot afford treatment.

“We have raised HIV and AIDS awareness and provided prevention, control, care and support to those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. Under this program, local doctors and Doctors without Borders (an international NGO) have made visits to various clinics to attend to patients, thereby enhancing the capacity of the clinics to better respond to the needs of HIV patients,” she explained.

Simon Bangano, a beneficiary of the home based care programme, said: “Had it not been for sister Barbara, I would have been dead by now. I do not have money to buy medication, but she has come to my rescue and I am doing well, at least for now.”

In the past three years Midzi, in partnership with other doctors, has donated medical supplies, equipment and baby clothes to various clinics.

The Food and Clothing Programme that she runs benefits the elderly, orphans, widows, HIV patients and poor families. “We have worked in collaboration with missionaries and my friends in the US to send two 40-foot containers of clothing, food, medical supplies, school supplies, toys and books into Zimbabwe.” She has distributed food and clothing to over 1000 people in Rimbi and surrounding villages.

Midzi said she is looking forward to embarking on computer training projects. “Some of the young people in these rural areas have never seen a computer. Now, young people will be able to receive training in computer skills in some schools. So far, we only have two computers and we clearly need more, in addition to printers,” said Midzi.

A software engineer, Midzi provides 90 percent of the funding for the various projects from her own earnings. She also hopes to build a library and a youth centre.

“Through our partnership with Books for Africa, we plan to distribute books to 10 rural schools in Mutasa district,” she said.

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