July 15, 2020

Kahn in Zimbabwe with FARM STEW

Kahn Ellmers

Meet Kahn, a FARM STEW Intern, and the kids in Zimbabwe at the NewStart Orphanage!

In Zimbabwe, FARM STEW International is pleased to partner with Kuda Vana Partnership!

Kuda Vana (which means “loving children” in Shona) is an orphanage that works to empower the most vulnerable children of Zimbabwe to not just survive, but thrive. 

Susan Cherne, the Board Chair of FARM STEW International, approached Kuda Vana while attending the 2019 ASI International Convention in Louisville, Kentucky to seek ways the two organizations might collaborate. Kuda Vana learned that FARM STEW was working to improve the health and well-being of poor families and vulnerable people by sharing the recipe of abundant life throughout the world. A natural partnership was born, and one young man’s dreams for a self-sufficient future were stirred. 

Kuda Vana is not your typical orphanage. Their staff provides holistic care to each orphaned or abandoned child brought to them by Social Services. Children are raised in a group home setting and given love, nutrition, security, healthcare, education, life skills, and spiritual and emotional guidance—enabling them to live more independent, dignified, and enriched lives. When the children in their care turn 18, Kuda Vana’s Youth Transition Program offers transitional housing and tuition support for trade school or university. 

Each child in Kuda Vana’s care is treated like family and, where possible, supported in their individual hopes and dreams. This is why Kuda Vana was concerned about the future of young Tendai, a 16-year-old who has been at the orphanage since he was a child. Tendai suffers from a severe learning disability, and as a youngster was often bullied by teachers. At 15, he was unable to read or write his name and despaired at ever achieving his dream of becoming an Agronomist or being independent. 

With time and care from the staff at Kuda Vana, Tendai recently learned to read. He is a remarkably intelligent young man who excels at inventing things and tending the gardens at Kuda Vana. He can make anything grow and takes great pride in his work. However, the staff was anxious about what would happen to Tendai when he turns 18 and is legally required to leave Kuda Vana’s campus. 

Dr. Rick Westermeyer, FARM STEW Zimbabwe Volunteer Country Director, and his wife visited Kuda Vana Children’s Home last fall. They walked through the gardens and learned about Kuda Vana’s ambitious vision to launch the Thrive Farming Program, an initiative to enhance the organization’s food security and foster essential life skills. Just a few short months after this program was launched, Kuda Vana was able to increase their farmable land by 500%! 

Dr. Rick and his wife also learned about Tendai and his affinity for agriculture, along with his struggles in traditional school. FARM STEW Zimbabwe and Africa Orphan Care offered to provide Tendai with a scholarship to attend a Foundation for Farming Training in Harare along with a FARM STEW volunteer. This opportunity proved to be the perfect recipe for Tendai’s confidence and his future prospects as an Agronomist. 

After two weeks of learning about building compost, mulching, and creating high yields from small pieces of land, Tendai earned a certificate in Foundations for Farming. As the youngest student there, he says he felt accommodated and included by everyone, and that FARM STEW’s volunteer, Khan Ellmers, was especially patient and helpful in ensuring he understood each concept. Tendai says of his experience: 

“I would want to express my gratitude and give thanks to the people who funded me to have the opportunity to attend this life-changing training. I have always had dreams of getting the chance to have such training to master my skills since I have great passion in farming. Now I have something I can do when I age out of Kuda Vana. I would like to be a big farmer and supply food to larger grocery chains. Right now, I am tending Kuda Vana’s Thrive Farming Program, and it’s not trial and error: I`m now doing the correct things when farming. This certificate means a lot to me. No one can take away the knowledge that I have, and I will explore the world. Once again, thank you very much for the support.”

FARM STEW is grateful for our partnership with Kuda Vana and looks forward to collaborating in more ways to ensure the most vulnerable children of Zimbabwe not just survive, but thrive. 

If you would like to learn more about Kuda Vana’s work with orphaned children in Zimbabwe, please visit!

To see the full interview with Kahn Ellmers Click Here!

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Kahn Ellmers
Kahn is a blessing to FARM STEW at this time in Zimbabwe!