ZIMBABWE – Newsletter – posted May 2014
Lots of little stalls selling a few vegetables or other bits and pieces, bright colours, lively worship, currency so used that it is very dirty and almost falling apart, hot sun, dirt roads with lots of potholes, a feeling of vibrancy despite the economic struggles, warm hospitality, renewed friendships, a relaxing disregard of the clock, overcrowded and frequently stopping “combis” providing the public transport, struggles with water and electricity, tasty food sometimes cooked on open fires – these, as always, were part of my Zimbabwean experience. December 2013 saw my fourth trip to Zimbabwe as part of the link between the Presbytery of Zimbabwe within the Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa and the Eastern Synod of the United Reformed Church. It was good to be back. Arriving at Budiriro on the Sunday I was immediately reminded of some of the challenges of Zimbabwean life. Rubbish so easily accumulates with the inevitable accompanying hazards to health. The bore hole with its constant queue of people waiting for water was a reminder of the challenges in finding safe water. One person told me of four potential sources of water – the city supply through the taps, a well sunk in their yard, the bore hole provided a few years ago by UNICEF in response to a cholera outbreak, and bottled water from the shops – but only the last two are safe to drink.
Mbare, which I visited on the Tuesday, is a key place in the life of Harare. Its large market is a focus for much of the informal economy that sustains local life. Masses of stalls give the impression of a thriving retail sector – though I was told that one of the big problems in Zimbabwe at the moment is that it is so difficult to find work and to make money. Businesses are closing at a significant rate and, though they are partly replaced by new ventures, these are frequently short-lived. Of course, life in Zimbabwe is very different from that of the UK, and it is not easy to paint the picture in words, but the enthusiastic, confident faith, more readily seen in Zimbabwe, is something we would do well to better reflect in the UK. Extracts from Paul Whittle (Moderator, Eastern Synod) – December 2013
Linda Mead – Commitment for Life Programme Co-ordinator, Mission Team, United Reformed Church 01702 315981
2014 Service outline ‘ A precious resource’ ,looking at water issues, is now available at www.cforl.org.uk
Commitment for Life exists to help United Reformed Churches and LEPs put faith and justice into action www.cforl.org.uk