In Africa, “Moving to greener pastures” often means moving to a country in the developed world. An estimated 7 million Zimbabweans live abroad. For most, their motivation is not only to earn a living but also to acquire skills and experiences that they can take home and use to help advance the nation. One such individual is Nyarai Purvis.

Nyarie left Zimbabwe when she was just 20 and lived in the United States for 22 years. While there, she became the first female regional manager of the largest security firm on the east coast, managing the firm for 11 years. But her biggest achievement was yet to come. Her heart was set on returning to Zimbabwe and using her experience to help her compatriots. And she is doing so in a remarkable way.

Kuumba founder Nyarie Purvis

After returning, Nyarie channelled her energy towards her passions and the issues in Zimbabwe she saw as the most serious, working as a consultant for organisations such as the Cancer Carers of Zimbabwe, the Labre Foundation (of which she is now board chairperson) and Prolific Women.  But Nyarie’s urge to make a difference only increased. According to her, the public health sector and the plight of the child are big pain points in Zimbabwe. Which is why she established Kuumba, a foundation through which she she has embarked on her charitable projects.

Impact Hub Harare has been playing the important role of matchmaker for Kuumba, connecting Nyarie with the diverse individuals and entities range of projects needed to achieve Kuumba’s ambitious goals. Her team currently consists of three members, including one who works from Impact Hub Accra, and Kuumba’s efforts centre on one project that seeks to create sustainable ecosystems in the rural schools of Zimbabwe. They are seeking to do this by helping schools acquire one-time funding which can be used to create sustainable profit-making ventures. Most of the schools have enough space to create greenhouses and build boreholes, and Kuumba will also assist by introducing an agricultural program that will not only feed students but also develop local infrastructure. Most of this work is focused on achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 — ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture — a particularly relevant goal for Zimbabwe.

“ Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of Africa. We picked the name Kuumba because we would like to use the rural schools (the hands), the clay (our greatest natural resource) and water (essential for all pottery making) to mould our basket (of produce) and end hunger in Schools .”-Nyarie Purvis.

The majority of less privileged children in rural Zimbabwe walk an average of 10 kilometres to these schools every day, sometimes in very harsh weather conditions, whilst carrying their books on their heads or in their hands. This trek to school is difficult and most school children end up dropping out because the majority of these students only have one meal a day. This means that they must make the journey to school on an empty stomach, arriving tired and hungry, and making it difficult to concentrate on their lessons.

There is a long way to go in helping these students but Kuumba has begun by distributing food supplies to these schools and have also secured more than 1 million school bags from American firm Livelite. The bulk of the bags will soon be shipped over from the United States but Kuumba has already brought in and distributed 500 of those bags to students — helping to take a load off the hands of those for whom the journey to education is already hard enough.

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Kuumba contributes to the following UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through their work: