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intentional communities - Interview with Ticha Murengweni,
Kufunda Learning Village
September 09, 2009
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Inzwa feature. Find out more
Inside / Out with Ticha Murengweni
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is an intentional community?
we're trying to help communities, especially in the rural
areas, for them to see how they can live sustainably and how they
can help themselves as well. Especially with these economic hardships.
So at Kufunda, we try to teach them different ways to do this like
organic farming, composting of toilets, community leadership, how
can they lead themselves in the communities.
was the learning village created?
It came about as a vision or a dream to Marrianne Knuth, on her
30th birthday. She was celebrating in Mhondoro. She saw how people
were living, and how hard it was for them. In July 2002, it started
is the philosophy behind Kufunda?
We're different from other villages and the like because we
don't have any hierarchy within us, we treat everyone as equal,
and we try to help each other, love each other, not hurt each other.
That's the kind of philosophy that we have at Kufunda.
is Kufunda different from other development projects?
The difference is that at times in other development projects there's
Mr So-and-So, the big man or whatever, but in Kufunda, we are equal
and when we sit in our meetings we sit in a circle, whereby we want
everyone's voice to be heard. And in the circle we have got
some tools that we use. We have got a talking piece, we have got
a bell, and each time we meet we ring the bell to bring us into
the time of presence. That's how we live at Kufunda.
ways are you practicing sustainable agriculture, and do you have
any recommendations for farmers who want to start doing the same
Right now we're practicing organic farming, where we're
not using chemicals. We are using our natural resources that we
get, like compost, cow-dung manure. We're trying to encourage
people not to eat fertilized foods. Right now at Kufunda we have
a small garden where we try to grow some nutritious foods from there.
do you recommend, or can you recommend that new farmers, like the
A1, A2 farmers, practice sustainable agriculture?
We can but right now with A1 and A2 farmers I know they'll
be doing this for commercial reasons. But we could recommend them
to start small, maybe, with a small portion where they can do organic
you're doing organic farming what fertilizer do you use?
We don't use any fertilizers we just use manure, cow-dung
manure, compost, chicken manure. We don't use any chemicals
to treat pests.
Permaculture is like permanent agriculture, whereby, we grow vegetables
or crops without using fertilisers.
would be the same as sustainable agriculture?
attitudes have you discovered that make people think that their
situation is helpless in your dealing with rural communities?
At first people think if someone has money you are the only person
who is able to live. But we make them understand that it is not
only financial richness that makes a human being. Even your natural
wealth, your ideas that you can share with people, everything that
makes someone see that you are helpful in a community.
do you teach new attitudes to people who feel that they are helpless?
People come to Kufunda and we teach them how we Kufundees live.
And at times they see for themselves, by being in a village like
Kufunda, they just see a difference from where you are coming from.
you encountered instances of extreme poverty, and what have you
done to help people overcome those circumstances?
At Kufunda what we have tried to do is to try to help people. Like
we have a project that we do, composting of toilets. This is a project
whereby it's kind of latrines that we use which are cheap
and we use manure in the garden. Like a bag of cement can make five
toilets for a rural family. So maybe five families can combine to
buy a bag of cement, and they can have five toilets. So we are trying
to help them, or motivate them to have toilets.
did you come to work for Kufunda Learning Village?
I like nature walking, and I was walking in Mbizi Game Park. One
morning I met Mrs Knuth, who is our director's mother, and
she said 'I need people who can harvest some maize at my farm,
do you think you can find some?' and I told here there are
a lot of women that are living in Epworth Community. And then we
organized to see when we could meet. I went with about ten women
to her. And then they were doing some work. After the work, it was
a month or so, and she told me about Marianne. A month later I met
Marianne, we talked about what the school is going to be like. I
was part of the building, and I was part of the pioneers of Kufunda.
I am still at Kufunda.
ways has being part of the Kufunda community changed your life?
I never used to like helping other people, even my neighbors. Now
I feel a bit sad to see someone not doing well. I used to cut down
trees when I was staying in Epworth. But when I came to Kufunda,
through Bev Reeler, through a programme called the Tree of Life,
I now feel sad to cut down a tree.
you say Kufunda has changed the way you look at life and living?
believe that Zimbabwe provides opportunities for social entrepreneurship?
Yes but if we could have many Kufundees spreading the word
about what we practice at Kufunda, I think life at times could change.
read that you have programmes that are geared toward people living
with HIV. Can you describe these programmes?
Right now we have a herb garden and a herb laboratory,
and we encourage people to get to know their status.
does the Community Currency project work?
We use what we call hours. It's equivalent to the
dollar, so I can buy tomatoes for half an hour using that currency.
result of the work that you have been doing in communities, mainly
the Mhondoro community, have you seen any changes?
Yes, in the way people live, of late. There was much hierarchy,
the Chief and the Sabhuku, but now they see themselves as being
equal. If there is a problem they call circles in the communities,
and find a way how they can solve some of those problems.
makes your work rewarding?
We're a resource to the world, and we're trying
to spread all this to the world. Right now we're seeing that
the world is wounded and there are a lot of things that are happening.
We try to see that everyone in the world gets to help himself or
wanted to become a part of the Kufunda community, how would they
go about doing that?
Some people come as volunteers, they come and stay and
practice what we do, maybe even just communicating with us, you
can get to know what Kufunda is and what we practice at Kufunda.
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