Me: Have you ever heard about a project or a place and suspected that its story has become based more on our desire for it to be true than on something real?
UNICEF guy: Like when you are promised the moon, but when you get there you find a few candles?
Me: Yes! Well, Kufunda Village is the moon.
After three days at the Kufunda Village Art of Hosting training, I was able to welcome a visitor from UNICEF into the village this way. I continued to tell him that Kufunda has been a beacon for the Art of Hosting community as proof that our practices could be an operating system for sustainability. If it could be fully operational in Zimbabwe for the past 15 years, imagine what would be possible in our Western organizations and projects? Even so, I had arrived fully expecting to be disappointed by the gap between desire and reality but, instead, was deeply inspired by the strength of the community.
A powerful practice at Kufunda that is not as deeply integrated into the Art of Hosting trainings and literature in the United States is the importance of building confidence among practitioners who are not expected to lead or share power. This and developing a deep understanding of your own needs and gifts was spoken to mostly by young people and women in the community.
During a design session the day before the training began, an educated European man and Art of Hosting practitioner who was also visiting the village offered a conceptual shift to the design. A local Kufunda Villager without advanced education listened attentively and then stated to the design team that she was the kind of person who needs time to think about things and would like to wait before making a group decision. Everyone settled into her pace.
After the training was completed, several young educated Black Zimbabweans from Social Entrepreneur Bootcamp referenced the ‘eloquence’ of this woman. They were impressed by her ability to host so many so well and her sophisticated grasp of languages. One of them also noted the ‘eloquence’ of a male village leader who ‘I would have walked by on the street thinking that he was no one or a drug addict.’
This poem harvested from the community’s voices during the opening circle of their 3-day Art of Hosting training is the most eloquent expression of Kufunda’s depth of purpose and practice that I can offer as a visitor to their moon:
It is important that we gather
To support our families and
Learn to be together and
Rediscover ourselves again
In the mix-up of others
We learn what is only possible together
The young teaching the old
The old passing on what is known
In the circle
Where our families’ fears can be healed
Becoming human again
is as simple as eating cake
It is time to enter inquiry
So that our dreams visions passions and
Personal growth can become projects of freedom
That bring us to life
Together we can restore being African
Beyond fear and forgetting
As individuals and as a village
Inviting every voice to bring new ideas and name challenges
It is important that we host ourselves and each other
In the learning circle of love, family, Kufunda
Respecting each other and the land
Creating opportunities for what Zimbabwe can be
In the quest for global equity
We are the teachers
Born of living the future and
The longing for collective wisdom
We begin with self discovery and
Enter this journey home
That has no end
Like children’s play
is about getting unstuck and trying something new with you.