Become a Love Activist
Liberation in Zimbabwe
House of Loveness, Zimbabwe A Project of Other Projects
Last month, I arrived in ZImbabwe to prepare for the 6th Qoya Service and Safari retreat since 2013. Three days before the retreat was to begin, I woke up to the news that there was a military coup in country. At the time, I was at Imire Wildlife Conservation Park, our base for the retreat. I felt safe and spent the day exploring the game park and meeting the new baby rhino who was just three weeks old. I also said hello to the ellie, Mac, who always remembers me from previous trips.
For the next two days as we monitored the situation, we walked with the rhinos and rode horses at sunset. Finally, I had to make the call and cancel the retreat. We weren't sure if the coup would be successful.On November 18th, the day the retreat was to begin, I watched the news of the largest peaceful gathering ever in Zimbabwe. For the first time since Mugabe had become president 37 years ago, people were free to speak up, gather and even protest without the threat of beatings or jail. It was a new day in Zimbabwe and it was a privilege to be there to witness how much it meant to so many people who had suffered for so long. They were no longer silenced.
I went with friends to visit a church their grandfather had built. The church and so much of the Zimbabwe they loved had been destroyed during the land takeovers of the last 15+ years, but this family continued to stay and support their community. They helped to make a difference where they could. They kept hope in their hearts instead of hate. And in the end, hope won.
The annual retreats are a way to combine service with Qoya. A generous portion of the retreat costs go towards supporting local projects. I was happy about the potential liberation of the country but also knew the cancelled retreat meant we would lose the retreat fee money that went towards the projects we're supporting this year: The mother's shelter at the local clinic; uniforms and classroom improvements for hundreds of children at a rural school that is run out of a dilapidated home; funding projects for the women's empowerment group; and providing assistance for the anti-poaching programs at Imire Wildlife Conservation Park.
And then the first miracle happened. A few days after the retreat was cancelled, we received a $2,000 donation from a woman who has never been to Zimbabwe. Then my friend Kitty Cavalier sent a message that she was going to donate a portion of her sales later this month to raise money for uniforms. Linda and Becca Kannapell of POUND Jewelry sent a $1,000 donation from the sales of jewelry made to benefit the ellies and rhinos. And it continues. I know together we will get these projects funded.
Since 2013, over forty women, men and children have joined me on these retreats and together our donations have paid school fees for under-privileged kids and provided hundreds of new uniforms and schools supplies. We've purchased bicycles so children walking up to 40km roundtrip a day could have transport to school. We contributed towards building a solar-powered library and community center. We donated emergency funds for formula for an abandoned baby elephant and we donated to the anti-poaching programs in the area, protecting the endangered rhinos and elephants. (SAVE THE DATE for 2018 retreat: November 17-24th)
After joining me in Zimbabwe in 2016, Qoya teachers Lindsay Hughes and Elan McAllister hosted a retreat focused on improving maternal health for the mothers in the area where our retreats are based.
Right now there is one clinic that women begin walking to (or try and find a ride in an area where there a few cars) when they go into labor. It's the only clinic within 60 km and it's only open Monday - Friday from 8am - 4pm.
Women in this area give birth mostly in the evenings and if they go into labor when there is no staff at the clinic, they would have to call the doctor or nurse and then the clinic staff would have to walk or find a ride to the clinic.
"Zimbabwe is listed as the 15th worst country in the world for maternal outcomes with 570 women dying per 100,000 births," Elan said. "There are huge cracks in the system of care that far too many women and babies fall through."
One of the first items Elan arranged to have donated was a LifeWrap that can stabilize women who may hemorrhage after birth. That LifeWraps has already saved the life of one mother.
Through donations from the May 2017 retreat group and a generous donation from POUND Jewelry, we were able to build housing for a doctor and nurse to live on the clinic property (so they could be available during deliveries that don't happen between 8-4pm). We also added a Mothers Shelter where women can come and stay a week before delivery and a few days after delivery.
For the first time in the area, mothers can stay at the clinic before and after birth to receive pre and post birth care. We also send mothers home with new clothes and supplies for the babies.
For our projects, we collaborate with the family that runs Imire, The Travers Family. Judy Travers is truly a wayshower on how to live with compassion, generosity, and kindness. Her work as a caretaker of the animals in Zimbabwe, especially the endangered ones, motivates me to do more to be a caretaker of the people, the land and animals around me.
A few weeks ago, as I was leaving Zimbabwe after the cancelled retreat, I was finishing the final passage on my next book Beyond O. The book discusses the consequences of speaking up and the ripple effects of telling the truth. The book also reminds us how spirit meets physical form in the darkness. Creation happens in the dark of the womb.
My first trip to Zimbabwe was filled with unexpected darkness after going there in 2008 to adopt a baby. I arrived to the news that the baby died. The first trip I was told that if I wanted to return to Zim again, I should stay quiet about the massive human rights violations I witnessed.
I stayed quiet for the next 23 trips so we could make a small difference in the lives of the people the government was failing, especially the children and women. Now, as the light enters Zimbabwe again, I see that out of that darkness, together we created something special.
Zimbabwe is liberated and so is my voice.
EXCERPT from Beyond O:
"The word planet means wanderer. Just like the planets, I will continue to wander. I'm even writing the last lines of this book on a plane from Zimbabwe where I witnessed the joy of thousands of Zimbabweans finally speaking up and celebrating after their president was forced to resign. They'd stayed mostly silent for the thirty-seven years of his presidency because speaking up could result in severe consequences. Through it all they kept hope, and their hope finally gave birth to the liberation of their voices and their country.
On one of the last nights of the 2016 retreat, our group spent the night in the bush with three elephants and their caregivers. It was a night to remember. We shared gin-and-tonics at sunset, and dinner was cooked over the campfire. I went to bed earlier than everyone else, smiling as I fell asleep to the sounds of the stories and the laughter of my friends and the caregivers for the elephants (who were also friends). I woke up in the middle of the night not sure where I was. I had cried myself awake, but it wasn't from sadness—it was from happiness. Everyone was asleep. I could hear the elephants eating nearby. I looked up at the galaxy of stars blanketing the African sky and continued to cry; remembering that first trip in 2008 when I arrived in Zimbabwe to adopt a baby and found out she had died. That night in Zimbabwe, I had cried myself to sleep. Now, eight years later, I was crying myself awake. I was exactly where I was supposed to be."
Thank you for your continued support of our work in Zimbabwe.
You can make a tax-deductible donation to the ongoing projects by clicking the DONATE button.
You can also support the projects through purchases of the hematite necklace or silver thread herkimer diamond bracelet created by POUND Jewelry.
Known as the "Stone of the Mind" and also as a blood stone (due to it's iron component as this stone is made of iron oxide ore), Hematite is one of the most GROUNDING stones in the mineral kingdom. It is made up of mostly iron, as is the very CORE of Mother Earth. It is also known as a stone to bring incredible mental organization into one's life and helps us by connecting the core of our being to the state of our mind so that the two can communicate and listen to one another on a deeper level.
A portion of each hematite pendulum sale will be donated to Imire Wildlife Conservation Park in Zimbabwe in order to promote anti-poaching laws against elephants and other wildlife. Thus, the silver elephant clasp on this piece. In honor of Mother Earth and all of her many wild animals and natural beauty. Hoping to connect us all through the beauty of adornment and the pure radiant nature of stones.
Materials: Hematite Pendulum, Silver Hand, Gun-Metal chain and silver Elephant clasp
Length: 28" adjustable to any length
Herkimer crystal quartz is known as the "diamond" of the crystal kingdom. It is one of the clearest, shiniest, purest forms of clear crystal quartz on our planet. It is called the "Life-Force Crystal" due to it's magnifying effect on all that it touches. This stone is INCREDIBLE for attuning to your own vibrations and will ENHANCE that which you set intention to. We chose this color thread in honor of the Elephants and the Rhinos.
A portion of each bracelet sale will go to the Imire Wildlife Conservation Park in Zimbabwe.
Materials: Mini herkimer crystal, grayish silver thread and silver rondelles.
This piece is adjustable. The thread is durable! But one day, it will eventually disintegrate or break, at which time maybe your crystal stays with you and maybe it is released back into the environment along with your intentions and life-force energies that have been integrated into the stone.
"Are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an
elephant except in a picture book."
If you donate for a specific item, please add the item info in the comments section when you complete the donation form. All amounts are appreciated. Keep your donation receipt (emailed upon donation) for tax purposes. And please consider joining us in Zimbabwe someday!
2015 - 2017 Projects
In 2015, House of Loveness teamed with Qoya (www.qoya.love/retreats) and the participants on the 2015 Qoya Service & Safari Retreat to fund a solar-powered library in Wedza. The library was completed with generous finishing funds donation by House of Loveness hero, Briana Rose. In 2016, the 4th annual Qoya Service & Safari Retreat provided funding for installation of a computer lab in the library. Thomas McKinnon of Roanoke, Virginia generously donated his resources and time to make the lab a dream come true.
Library Dedication October 2016
In 2016, we provided new uniforms for 140 boys and girls at Numwa School. In 2017, we would like to double our gift. All the uniforms are sewn by the local Women Empowerment Group.
"The support came at a time when it was least expected yet greatly needed. Some of the pupils were coming to school without uniforms while others with tattered ones. We would like you to know that by buying uniforms from our support group, you gave us a lot of financial support which we greatly value."
Numwa Mother Support Group.
"Thank you so much for the adventure of a lifetime."
"In 2015 I attended Betsy's Qoya/service retreat in Zimbabwe with my then 17 year old son. I just returned from attending her Bali retreat with my eighty year old mother. Betsy is the consummate leader, teacher and guide. I trust her with my family. I trust her with my heart."
Tara Dixon, NYC
Qoya Service Retreats include seven nights shared accommodations at Imire Sable Lodge; three gourmet meals a day; 3-4 days working at a local school; education on the local rhino and elephant conservation efforts; daily game drives; sunset drinks & appetizers in the safari park; afternoon tea & tour of Wild is Life Animal Sanctuary and Zimbabwe Elephant Nursery: free time to swim, hike sacred mountains, see bushman cave drawings, horseback ride, rhino walks, elephant walks; and daily Qoya classes to integrate the experience of being in Africa. This trip to appropriate for singles, couples, families and friends.
For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org
House of Loveness was created in 2008 by filmmaker/writer Betsy Blankenbaker to provide emergency and longterm care for vulnerable children and animals in Zimbabwe. (House of Loveness is NOT an orphanage.)
Supported by 87 Donations:
I Gave $108In honor of her deep Love and in celebration of her grandchildren, Grandmother and GoGo, Betsy Blankenbaker! Keep shining bright!
I Gave $14
I Gave $311
I Gave $250For Maternity. Inspired by Kitty Cavalier & in honor of Elan McAllister and Lindsay Hughes McKinnon. Thank you for your work and presence in the world
I Gave $400Betsy + Brighton = Match Made in Heaven!!!! I thank you and I love you both!!!! XOXOXOXOXOXO, Aunty Ayiesha
I Gave $4
I Gave $200As you lift your voices to the world with JOY now Zim, I send you all @ Imire love, blessings, and peace. I'll be back!
I Gave $100So proud of you Betsy and go grateful for you for introducing me to Zim! Sending love your way and sending love to Zimbabwe. xx
This donation is a gift from Qoya Roanoke - we are giving to support the Mother's Shelter through House of Loveness!
I Gave $1,000
AnonymousI Gave $2,054These collaborations you started are just so beautiful! Thank you for spreading Love far and wide!
I Gave $52Qoya Courage to Love Denver Workshop donation
I Gave $40Gift from Denver Qoya: Courage to Love workshop! (part 1)
AnonymousI Gave $200This is for Brighton's school
I Gave $200
I Gave $340For Brighton School Fees
I Gave $33Keep reading and writing. Love your story.
I Gave $150With Love from Qoya Roanoke, to go towards the Twins and in support of Holly Baxter's Qoya Teacher Training!
I Gave $1,063For love, for the eles, for always
I Gave $50To help paint a wall of the new birth center! ❤🌀
Thank you for bring this life affirming work to Zimbabwe
I Gave $25
I Gave $72Elan and Lindsay you are my beautiful heroines!
AnonymousSuch wonderful work!
I Gave $360With love and gratitude for your and others' great generosity in what you are creating there - I'm with y'all at Imire in spirit! Xo S
AnonymousI Gave $100
I Gave $200To support Elan and all the love and light she shares with this world!