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Zimbabwean Co-operators visit Canadian housing groups.

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“I am impressed by how Canadian housing groups combine their annual meetings with training workshops for members and staff. This is something we are definitely taking back with us,” says the visibly happy Mike Duru, Chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Association of Housing Co-operatives (ZINAHCO).
“The model will definitely help us train many more people, increase the capacity of co-ops to manage their affairs and equip members with crucial skills like we saw at the Annual CHRA Congress in Quebec City and the CHF Canada AGM in London, Ontario,” echoed Ariel Kagu, Executive Director of ZINAHCO. “We will also use the ZINAHCO AGM to help our members to influence government policy on housing,” Kagu further explained.
Since the late 1980s, Rooftops Canada has supported Zimbabwe’s housing movement by providing technical expertise, training and resources. ZINACHO is a member controlled umbrella organization which represents 103 housing cooperatives with over 6,400 active members.  
For over a decade, political and economic decline in Zimbabwe severely affected housing co-ops. Some co-ops fell apart, and many were destroyed by the 2005 infamous evictions that left more than 700, 000 people homeless. ZINAHCO barely survived the turmoil, and Rooftops Canada is helping it revive. The visit to Canada provided both a learning opportunity and the chance to re-new connections with the Canadian co-operative and social housing movement.
During the visit, Kagu and Duru explored key areas for building ZINAHCO’s capacity for housing development, training, advocacy, and member services. Following a visit with the Montreal federation of housing co-ops, Kagu noted, “The strength of the organization and the services it offers has inspired our focus on building District Unions in Zimbabwe.”
Sharad Kerur of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association and Tom Clement of the Cooperative Housing Federation of Toronto (CHFT) also met the delegation. “Both ONPHA and CHFT’s programs are diverse, need driven and relevant to the members,” said Kagu.
As their visit came to a close, Duru and Kagu felt encouraged by the support they received from Canadian organizations and the strength of their shared experiences. “We might have a long way to go in Zimbabwe but with support from Rooftops Canada we will get there,” said Duru.