On February 2, the first-ever NVRFLD Charity Poker Event was held in Minneapolis, breaking fundraising records at the party of the year. Sponsored by Latitude, Cambria and World Poker Tour, the event raised over $1.7 Million for medical and agricultural initiatives worldwide. MATTER was honored to be among the recipients of the proceeds and we wasted no time in putting the funds to good use. Less than a week after the tournament, MATTER was on the ground in Zimbabwe, implementing life-changing projects to improve access to healthy living for the amazing people there.

The African country of Zimbabwe is in transition and a new day is dawning for its people after the sudden resignation of its former President, Robert Mugabe, late last year. The beautiful and mineral-rich country, once known as The Jewel of Africa, had been left in near ruins in the wake of Mugabe’s decades-long and often brutal reign. A collapsing economy, crumbling infrastructure and corrupted political system were just some of the many challenges facing the new President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who pledged a “new destiny” for his country when he was sworn in last November.

MATTER is excited to help the resilient people of Zimbabwe during this time of national restoration. We’re focusing our initial efforts on the Lukosi Maternity Hospital and the Victoria Falls Hospital, located in the Matabeleland North Province. The situation at these hospitals is dire. Expectant mothers arriving at these facilities face a number of grim conditions making their care and that of their newborns sub-standard at best and downright dangerous at worst.

With help from the NVRFLD tournament funds, MATTER was able to immediately address many of the concerns at the Lukosi Hospital. MATTER staff arrived in early February with a shipment of updated equipment and boxes of life-saving medical supplies to begin renovation of the rural hospital. There was a feeling of great anticipation as the boxes were unpacked and the equipment unloaded and set up. Clean beds were rolled into newly scrubbed rooms. The much needed and longed for ultrasound machine found its place of honor next to a new exam table. Stethoscopes, surgical instruments and fetal Dopplers were carefully unpacked and passed around with great excitement.

“It’s like Christmas came again so soon. I couldn’t be happier!” – Mlilo, Head Midwife, Lukosi Maternity Hospital

There’s still more work to be done in Lukosi and MATTER is already in the process of planning our next steps. We’re also planning our first steps at the Victoria Falls Hospital, including a first shipment of equipment and supplies in the coming months.

Updating and improving the hospitals is not MATTER’s only project in this area. MATTER has designed and begun implementing a community farm near the Lukosi Hospital. This demonstration farm will provide much needed fresh and nutrient-dense food to the mothers and newborns at the hospital as well as the surrounding community. It will also serve as a community outreach hub and training center, assisting and empowering smallholder families in the area to create their own plots based on the hospital farm model.

As part of the trip, MATTER’s President, Quenton Marty, and Agriculture Programs Director, Chris Newhouse, were honored to meet with Zimbabwe’s First Lady to discuss her vision for a renewed Zimbabwe and how MATTER can continue to help her country in medical and agricultural improvements.

MATTER is thankful for the generous support of Latitude and Cambria, two of our Companies that MATTER, and The World Poker Tour Foundation for making our work in Zimbabwe possible. MATTER will continue to find ways to help improve access to health and opportunity for these amazing people as their country begins to shine bright, as the jewel that it is, once again.