Altrusa Club of Meredith Sponsors a Zienzele Night

MEREDITH — On Tuesday, October 29, the Altrusa International Club of Meredith sponsored a "Zienzele Night."

"Zienzele" refers to the Zienzele Foundation, an organization designed to support AIDS orphans and their caregivers in Zimbabwe, Africa. The evening, which took place at the Meredith Community Center, consisted of a dinner catered by Kevin's Cafe in Moultonborough, a presentation by Nancy Clark, co-founder and president of the Zienzele Foundation, and the sale of beautiful baskets made by Zimbabwean women.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation given by Nancy Clark, assisted by Zienzele Board Member, Jackie Simpson. Nancy told the story of how the organization came into being. She and Co-founder, Prisca Nemapare, a native of Zimbabwe, worked together on a maternal child health and nutrition research project, sponsored by Earthwatch in rural Zimbabwe. When Earthwatch could no longer continue its work, Nancy and Prisca decided to form an organization that would help children most in need in the area, AIDS orphans.

The Foundation's primary goal is to help the people in the area develop self-sustaining projects that generate food, funds for basic needs, and school fees for AIDS orphans. Some of these projects include creating vegetable gardens, sewing and selling school uniforms, and making and selling baskets. By far, the most successful project is the basket project. Zimbabwean women make baskets of varying sizes, colors, and designs using grass and sisal. The Zienzele Foundation buys the baskets, brings them back to the United States and sells them for a profit. All proceeds go back to Zimbabwe to pay school fees for AIDS orphans. Currently this project is providing educational opportunity for 800 orphans.

Members of the Meredith Altrusa Club were so moved by the plight of the Zimbabwean people and so inspired by the work of the Zienzele Foundation to assist them that they bought many of the beautiful baskets for sale. Estimated funds from the sale were approximate $1200. Also under consideration is the adoption of a child-headed family (a family in which children take care of siblings and if necessary disabled adults). For $300 a year, this program pays for school fees, school supplies, a quarterly box of food staples, and shipments of donated clothing.

Baskets will be available for purchase by the general public at the Meredith International Altrusa Club's Festival of Trees to be held at Waukewan Golf Club December 6-8.