Vicki Sorg (5th from left) attends the opening of a new piped water scheme in Kwite community, Zimbabwe; Credit: PM-International

PM-International, a direct sales company and manufacturer of dietary supplements and cosmetics with its international headquarters in Schengen, recently sent its Charity Ambassador Vicki Sorg to visit some of its sponsored children in Zimbabwe.

With 4,200 sponsored childrenaround the world, PM-International, with its philanthropic PM We Care Foundation, is the largest corporate sponsor of the humanitarian organisation for relief and development, World Vision. Recently, the company's Charity Ambassador Vicki Sorg travelled to Zimbabwe to visit 500 sponsored children.

The children live in the Tshitshi Madabe, located on the edge of the Kalahari desert in South West Zimbabwe, close to the Botswana border. The Tshitshi Madabe Area Program is a regional long-term development project initiated by World Vision in 2021 and supported by PM-International. As this is one of the driest regions of Zimbabwe, the biggest challenges for the local children are access to clean water and hygiene, nutrition and a lack of child protection and rights.

Many people live from agriculture and animal husbandry. Due to long periods of drought, the harvests are failing and animals are dying of thirst. The few available water sources are often contaminated and children and women often need to walk long distances for water, several times a day. In addition, many children drop out of school without sufficient education.

World Vision aims to improve educational opportunities for children and supports parents to find additional sources of income. The project measures are planned and carried out in close collaboration with the local people, with the goal of empowering them to help themselves.

During her stay, Vicki Sorg visited several communities and local families to convince herself of the progress of the regional projects. In Kwite community, she attended the official opening of the new community piped water scheme.

World Vision Zimbabwe Program Manager Nqobani Ncube reported that before, the residents collected water from distant sources that were often not safe: "We have taken measures to address the lack of potable water in our local World Vision team, together with the government, World Vision Germany and PM-International. With the solar-powered water scheme, 123 households and the local primary school have now access to safe and clean water through community tabs. Children have time to attend school and gardeners are able to water their fields".

When visiting local nutrition garden farmers, Vicki Sorg witnessed the improvements the local farmers and World Vision had achieved by using adaptation strategies for drought, enabling the farmers to set up small businesses and generate income.

For Vicki Sorg, it was an emotional visit: "Only one year after we started this project together, you already see big results. It was great to experience the strength and determination of the people I met in Tshitshi Madabe. Everyone is determined to create better opportunities, not only for the local children but for the region as a whole". She continued: "Starting with the piped water scheme – it has changed the life in the communities in so many ways. I am confident that all together and building up on the first improvements, we can make an even bigger difference!" 

Vicki Sorg also visited a Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) project site. This technique aims to restore vegetation on deforested and degraded soils with the goal to improve agriculture, food production and restoration. She also joined a meeting of a Savings Club formed by local women, empowering each other to run small businesses such as tuck shops, bakeries or chicken rearing.

For almost 20 years, PM-International and World Vision have been supporting children, their families and communities in more than 60 long-term development projects worldwide.

Juliana Goessmann, Senior Advisor Philanthropy at World Vision Deutschland e.V., commented: "This visit in Zimbabwe really shows once more that community development works best with a sustainable and holistic approach. By improving the access to clean water together with the local communities and PM-International, we are also making progress in areas such as education, nutrition, health and female empowerment. Providing water to schools makes them a save environment for children".

In total, the company has donated €5.7 million in the past two years to support sponsored children and emergency relief efforts. The donations are made possible through the support of the company's customers and distribution partners. As the company grows, the number of sponsored children is growing too. PM-International's next goal is to sponsor at least 10,000 children and engage in additional projects around the world.