Some years ago the association Felistas Afrika-Hilfe started with small, very personal and unbureaucratic initiatives. For example, private donators provided football shirts and shoes for Charter FC‘s football team, plush toys for the children of women working on potato fields and, finally, pencils and other school materials for the Primary School in the village.
Later, initiatives became more complex. The drinking water supply of the village collapsed and the water tank had to be replaced.
An article in the magazine ‚Kempen Kompakt‘ on the situation of the Charter Primary School caused many spontaneous donations and other help. To get all these managed in a structured and transparent way, ‚Felistas Afrika Hilfe Kempen‘ had been founded. However, as it started it will remain: personal and unbureaucratic.
Charter Estate is a small rural community in Zimbabwe, about 120 km southeast of the capital Harare. Charter consists of about 50 families in old farm workers' accommodation, almost all without electricity and water. It has a church, a mostly unstaffed police station, an unstaffed infirmary, a veterinarian, old unused warehouses for tobacco and other agricultural products and the Charter Primary School with about 200 students.
Charter is no different from many other rural communities in Zimbabwe, which are severely battered by the economic decline of the formerly prosperous country. The village is the center of a former state farm from Rhodesia's times, where new varieties and farming methods were tried out in an economically important tobacco growing area. Many of these state farms fell victim to the political mismanagement of the country, which became independent in 1980. The farms were privatized and the land was distributed to private owners. That's not a problem for now; but of the 13 private farms that emerged from the state farm, only one is in operation. On the other, cows graze or maize is grown for survival in subsistence agriculture.
However, most of the farm workers are unemployed and try to get by more poorly than they can. With economic decline, most of the state services have collapsed, the infirmary is vacant, at the police station wacker holds a lonely official, who also works as a guard on the farm. The veterinarian is sometimes over there but has no medication to treat the cows. The church is used by all religions, which makes sense.
The elementary school and the secondary school a few kilometers away continue to be in function. However, the economic situation in the country must also be considered in all areas. The buildings are getting old and money for repairs is scarce. Textbooks and other school materials are handed down from generation to generation. There were no blackboards in the classrooms and thatswhy they made a wall with paint green to have a Kind of blackboard. The school uniforms of the children are becoming increasingly muddy, and many children have no more. Their books and helpers pupil carry in plastic bags, pencils are shared. However, this has changed for a year through donations from Kempen, and it is funny to see children in the middle of Zimbabwe with a biro from Sparkasse Krefeld. In charter, however, one got used to Kempen, because the football teams of the village proudly wear jerseys from Thomasstadt Kempen.
One of the basic problems of the school is the water supply. In rural areas, water is supplied through a borehole, from which water is pumped into a tank, from where water is supplied to the school and teachers' houses. The tank is crucial in the frequent power outages, because it can ensure the water supply, until the pump provides for replenishment. However, the old corrugated metal tank is leaking at every turn, so it can only be filled up to a third with about 1,500 liters. Replacing this tank was the first project of the Felistas Afrika Hilfe Kempen.
First there are Rainer and Christiane Hamm, with whom everything started. Already in 2005 they had discovered their love for Africa. In 2012 they visited Zimbabwe for the first time. On a visit to the farm at Fort Charter, they immediately noticed the kids sitting in the blazing sun all day while their mothers worked in the field. Somewhere at potato fields a five-year-old girl named Felistas crossed their path. Today this girl enjoys the special support of Christiane and gave the association it's name. Then the couple Rainer and Christiane organized first actions in their friendship in Kempen e.g. Jerseys, football boots, dolls and school material. They have also dealt with the tax office because of the founding an association and brought friends for founding the association.
On the other side are Sekai and Helmut Orbon in Harare / Zimbabwe. Helmut is from Lobberich, took one's High Scholl Diplom at Thomaeum in Kempen and spent the rest of his life as a development worker, especially in Africa. From 2002 to 2004 they lived with their children in Kempen before returning to Africa. Sekai's father runs a farm on Charter Estate and so the regular contact was made.
Then there's Yusuf Birker, who told the story of the Charter Primary School in Kempen; there is Georg Baumeister, who read the story and who together with his daughters donated a lot of money for the renovation of the water supply in the school; and there are the people in charge of Kempen, who provided the jerseys, and Uwe Worringer, who bought 20 pairs of used football boots. And there are a few more who spontaneously given money to help. They are all normal people like you and me who want nothing more than to keep a humble contribution to improve the living conditions of others.