Reflections from a month in the Learning Village
By Anna Morter
When we started exploring our Learning Placement options at the beginning of the year, a placement in Europe felt optimistic; I found it a challenge to build investment and interest in a placement with the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. I also felt uneasy about traveling across the world, given that it was arguably not “necessary” travel. Holding this reality, I also felt it was useless to turn down such a beautiful opportunity to learn, be challenged, shift perspective and narratives. I also felt it important that the practical, emotional and spiritual skills that I had learnt at YIP were implemented in service of something beyond our small community. So I joined a group of four other yippies and traveled to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe! Having only ever travelled in Europe on coaches or budget airlines, the free food on the plane was already getting me very excited to venture beyond this familiar land. I was travelling with an open mind, trying to let go of any expectation of what would greet the five of us yippies on arrival, other than the lack of snow which we parted with when we left Sweden, and the certainty of warm sun.
When we arrived at Kufunda Learning Village the speed at which I felt at home almost shocked me. The land and the culture was like nothing I have ever experienced but the community was so incredibly welcoming and I felt like it was my space. A strong sense of calm was also washing over me, this feeling that nothing needed to be rushed rather done with joy and playful energy.
I think one of the factors that lead to this feeling was the Zimbabwean relationship to time. Their philosophy is not one of getting less done, but there was much more of a laid back, fluid, organic way of operating that was sometimes unpredictable. If you had a meeting that started at 8:30 am, the meeting did not start at 8:30 am. Early on, when we were still getting used to this reality, we went on a hunt to see where our fellow outreach team members might be. We ended up being invited into Stephen’s home (one of the team members houses) as he was sitting with his family. Propped in the corner was an old TV with a documentary about eco communities in Africa being streamed live. Kufunda was part of the documentary so we sat and watched it with them. The door was propped open; chickens wondered about outside, clothes were being washed and children were getting ready for school. We then went to our meeting. What I loved was that this way of being melted away any stress and brought so much joy into all the work I was doing, something I really want to hold onto now that I am back in Europe.
It’s a challenge to channel this whole experience into one short written impression. Each day so much was happening and I was learning and stretching in more ways than I can identify.
This month was such an incredibly rich experience, something I will hold onto for many years to come. For me, our time in Zimbabwe felt so full, colourful, diverse and magic.
Every afternoon at 16:30, the village would gather together and everyone would speak out gratitudes from their day and their intention for the following day. I found this a very beautiful powerful practice and in my reflections of the Learning Placement experience I would like to speak out my gratitudes: I’m grateful for the incredible group of yippies/friends/family I got to travel, live and work with. We went through many ups and downs as a group but I’ve never been part of a group process that felt more healthy. Our regular check ins supported radical honesty and open communication and through every challenge it felt like the group could hold it. So many shared meals, evening card games, conversation and debate, dancing, singing, cups of tea, bumpy car rides in the open back, star gazing in the hammock.
I’m grateful for the work. The opportunity to be a part of Kufunda’s operation on the Biodynamic farm, in the Waldorf inspired school and as part of the outreach/leadership team. Helping to start a new garden for the children to grow vegetables in, singing and laughing as we broke the ground and picked away the weeds. Making loud and silly noises, shapes and movements with the children during our physical theatre classes. Giving the children permission to unleash their imagination and PLAY and SING. It was one of my greatest joys. Felting and knitting with class ones and twos; sitting outside on the sandy ground in a circle under the shade of a tree. Witnessing the power of community work and intentional conversation and realising its work I feel deeply called to do more of.
I’m grateful for the Kufunda community and the Zimbabwe community beyond, for welcoming us with such warmth and inviting us into their lives. All the shared space, meals and conversation.
I’m grateful to Maaianne, our Learning Placement host, (and Kufunda co founder) for making this all possible. For all her support, for 6am morning Movement Medicine practice, beautiful conversation and all the fresh lettuce gifted to us from her garden.
I feel very fortunate to still be linked and working with Kufunda online during the self designed curriculum period as part of the outreach team.
My intention is to travel back to Kufunda in the not too distant future and continue to support their powerful and pioneering work.