The community of Sandura is in Zimbabwe’s Gokwe North district in the Midlands province. In the 1970s, this area was heavily infested with Tsetse flies, causing multiple cattle deaths from the transmission of Trypanosomiasis. In the 1980s, not long after the country gained independence, the government’s veterinary department conducted a massive Tsetse fly control, using helicopters in the elimination of the pest that hindered cattle production in Sandura.
After eradication of the Tsetse fly came a massive influx of people from all over Zimbabwe who either had no land or had been displaced by the war. As they settled in Sandura with hopes to raise their standard of living through farming, they faced major challenges, including a shortage or lack of draft power. Banks turned down their requests for loans to buy cattle because they had no collateral. Families were limited to tilling small pieces of land with a hand hoe, harvesting barely enough food each season to feed themselves. On average, yields were 13 bags of maize and 880 pounds, or two bales, of cotton. The low crop yield left them vulnerable to hunger and poverty.
While working in Gweru, Mr. Musandipa, a Sandura resident, heard about Heifer International’s work to help disadvantaged people. Hopeful, he shared the news with his community, who organized themselves into of a group of 90 people and applied for assistance. In 1999, the group received 90 cattle for 45 families through Passing on the Gift®. Since then, life in Sandura has been transformed for the better. The average cotton yield has increased from two to 15 bales per family, and maize harvest is up from 13 to 80 bags. Thanks to Heifer’s assistance and their hard work, the Sandura community has managed to beat hunger. They now consume milk, and cases of malnutrition are a thing of the past. Project members earn extra income by hiring out draft power to other community members. Three years ago, the Sharing and Caring Cornerstone inspired this successful group to donate three tons of maize to the Hope of the San Project when they faced dangerous levels of food insecurity.
The community has passed on 45 third-generation heifers to Katerere community in Gokwe North district. On average, original families that have completed their pass-on obligations now have herds of 12 cattle. Sandura community is proud to have broken the vicious cycle of poverty. To date, the lives of 120 families have been transformed. The community is a shining beacon of success in passing on knowledge, cattle, sharing and caring. Incidentally, “sandura” is a Shona term for transformation. This community certainly lives up to its name.