Rennie and I have spent an emotion-filled couple of weeks leaving our home and friends in Montreal and flying across the globe to our new temporary home in Kufunda Village, Zimbabwe.
Contrary to the title of this post, Kufunda is quite land-locked, nestled under a large canopy of trees on a farm outside of Harare, with very little water even to drink. But the feeling of entering into the village is a lot like the feeling of washing up onto a beach, where boundaries and edges are blurred and it is up to you to find your own unique relationship and alignment with the new landscape.
This unbound quality shows up in lots of ways at Kufunda.
Its overarching role is beautifully unclear. Much of the energy of Kufundees is centred around living the change they want to see in Zimbabwe. Yet it is equally outwardly focused- working closely with other villages in the region through skills-building workshops, community organizing, and youth leadership. And they prefer to define their mission very broadly- as a learning village- rather than wed themselves to any particular issue or target group.
Kufunda is just as much a village as it is an organization. Some people live here. Some don’t. Some take on roles that closely resemble community organization staff, while others are engaged in micro-enterprise activities or core sustenance activities for the village like cooking, cleaning, transportation, security and maintenance. And individual roles are fluid, emergent and guided just as much by passion as by practical necessity.
We were particularly struck by how quickly we were welcomed into all aspects of community life- the light and dark. After only four days here, we were invited to join their quarterly review- an all-day village-wide meeting to check in on how village life is going. We dove right into the thick of things, witnessing and contributing to conversations on even the most sensitive topics like interpersonal conflicts, personal economic hardships, and community-wide tensions.
I’ll end this post with two passages from the Southern Wall that beautifully convey my experience here at Kufunda:
The organization rarely concerns itself with boundaries in any explicit, meaningful way. The boundaries that do exist are of the moment, generated by anyone who wants to belong and defined by the ways in which they see themselves as belonging. So these boundaries are tenuous, shifting, and yet they are also permanent in that once you have declared yourself, once you have announced your belonging in word or in gesture, you continue to belong in a very real way.
Shores, unlike boundaries, are made less for protecting than for receiving. They receive serenely and without question whatever washes up: plant and bone, trash and treasure. And perhaps the most striking thing about shores is that, ultimately, they are illusions. The land never stops; it simply extends itself under water, connecting, in the end, everything with everything.