“Problems gravitate towards their solutions.”
Those are the words of Fadzai Mavindidze, the founder and president of a not-for-profit organization called Pencils and Smiles, which was founded in 2016. Over the past few years, Pencil and Smiles has catered to the needs of over 100 school children in Zimbabwe. Fadzai shares her journey with The Weight She Carries.
My name is Fadzai Mavindidze, born and raised in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. I am a mother of three. For the past 10 years, I have been living and working in the corporate world in the United States. But as they say, home is where the heart is, and that is the case for me.
It was during one of the services in church that the pastor spoke about individuals who had the desire to help the less privileged. It moved me to tears because he had spoken directly to me. Although I did not have the resources to do so, I knew that it was something I had to do somehow.
I had a profound experience when my mother visited her father, my grandfather. She narrated how during her visit, an old lady had walked kilometres to ask for a pencil for her grandchild who was not attending lessons because of that. I tried to imagine how it all played out, and it touched me how on this side of the world, pencils and pens just lie around, and yet one child could not attend school because of just one pencil.
In that moment, I knew that is where I would begin: by providing one pencil at a time to ensure that at least one child does not miss class because of the lack of it. It began with two boxes of pencils in 2015 and has multiplied to paying school fees for close to 100 school children. We’ve also purchased uniforms as well as backpacks for over 30 children and sanitary packs for young girls. Our organization also donated groceries to an orphanage during the COVID-19 lockdown, not to mention the hundreds of pencils, pens and miscellaneous stationery, and library books that we have provided thus far.
The aim really is to create a smile and opportunity for education one pencil at a time. That is the mandate.
I attribute all this to God, who has shown me my purpose through His word and real life situations. I recall a time when I was in the midst of saving up for school fees for my children. My cousin emailed me to say that she and her twin brother were starving. At first, I questioned why such a request would be made when I could not help. A decision was made. I was going to take my stash and render the help they required, and that’s what I did. Since then, each time I give, God multiplies in quantities unimaginable.
I am a helper; that is who I am meant to be. Learn who you are by spending time in the Word of God, and you will realize that you will always gravitate to who you are meant be on this earth.
When you find your purpose, God will bring all things to work together to guide and lead you in it, from divine helpers and partners to resources and divine and timely connections. The team that God put together to make Pencils and Smiles is amazing and works tirelessly and passionately.
Our unique gifts and abilities merge together perfectly each time we have an assignment or project, and each time we see God’s hand in our collaboration. To Kim Mukwa, Collen Dhlamini, Agnes Dhlamini, Shingisai Musiyarira and Samuel Malete, it would not be the same without your contributions over the years and the years to come.