ZIMBABWE – Newsletter posted February 2014

John Kasondela – February 2014 post

John Kasondela is 42 years old and head of the Syamwaka village in the north-west of Zimbabwe. John has a great deal of responsibility as village head as well as the responsibility that comes with providing for 2 wives and 11 children!

Christian Aid partner, Christian Care, began helping John’s community in  March 2011, providing the most vulnerable members of the community with 5 goats and 8 chickens as well as a community ‘goat dip’ to keep disease rates in the goats low. Goat dipping works by submerging goats in treated water every two weeks to kill and prevent tics and pests that cause fatalities among goats. Looking after goats leads to good breeding and all round programme success. A year or two after being given goats by Christian Care, beneficiaries have bred enough goats to pass on the starter number to a new community, giving the programme the name ‘Passing-on-the-Gift’.

John describes how his life has been considerably transformed by the work of Christian Care but how there are still challenges, the biggest being water and distance to the goat dip. John says “I live 20km from the goat dip, which is too far to bring goats regularly. I have to walk 2.5km from my home to the nearest water source, which is also hard for the goats.”

John hasn’t killed or eaten any of the goats yet, but will sell some when he has more. He would like to build a shed for the goats with his family and one day he would like to have 40 goats.

Johanna is from Guatemala, Central America.

Johanna lives in a house made of palm leaves. She’s 11 but, although children grow at all different rates, Johanna is particularly small for her age.

Sometimes when people don’t grow properly it can be a sign of malnutrition – where people do not get enough of the right foods to eat to remain fit and healthy. Johanna’s family is poor. They live in the mountains where for several months a year there isn’t much food. During this ‘hunger season’ Johanna and her family survive only on plain tortillas (flat bread) with no fillings or toppings.

Food for thought

Johanna’s three-year-old cousin Chelda was very sick because her family were only eating tortillas and she wasn’t getting enough protein in her diet to help her grow.

Christian Aid supports an organisation in Guatemala called Bethania, which runs the children’s clinic where Chelda went to get better. It’s been set up especially for children in the area who don’t get enough to eat.

The clinic is a fantastic place because it’s helped save lots of children’s lives.

Very proud to be seen as an individual

Bangladesh covers 147,570 km² with a population of 160 million people. The majority of rivers that meet the sea in Bangladesh’s delta region come through India. The build up of silt brought down into this delta region makes temporary islands by the rivers banks.  Over 30% of the population live below the poverty line with much of this poverty related to the natural disasters that affect the country; cyclones, hurricanes, flooding and arsenic poisoning.

DSK, meaning ‘Health Centre for the Distressed,’ is a secular organisation formed in 1975. It works out of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, dealing mainly with women’s health issues. Conditions have improved since the days when a doctor could not examine or even see a woman patient except through a curtain. The giving of free education to girls up to the age of 12 has really helped, as many can read about better nutrition, health care and ways to stop high mortality rates.

In one area they have been working to provide hand wash facilities and a clean water supply. Pit latrines and septic tanks have been built to give better sanitation. Where possible they use the sewage line but this is not always possible as main sewage pipes do not extend far out of Dhaka. The whole of Dhaka only has one treatment plant so they organise Vacutag lorries into high density areas to remove human waste products but people have to pay for this service.

DSK are encouraging the re-excavating of ponds to collect rainwater. This will not be salinated and could provide drinking water if simple pond sand filters (sand and woodchip for the water to pass through) are used to purify the water and remove any arsenic found naturally in some areas.

But the best example of great progress is the empowerment of women. The story is told of a local woman who was given a key to a cyclone shelter so she and others could meet as a forum. When the woman was asked to sign her name she started crying. She explained that when she was young she was always referred to as the ‘daughter of’ then ‘wife of’ or ‘mother of’.  It made her very proud to be seen as a person in her own right.

As with all development projects, any improvement in a situation must lead to greater empowerment of the community.  So that in the future they have confidence to negotiate with local councils and even governments.

World Development Movement – Success

Last month EU negotiators agreed to introduce regulation to help stop banks and hedge funds driving up food prices and worsening the global hunger crisis.

With your help WDM have campaigned hard for over three years to build public pressure and make food speculation an issue that can’t be ignored. In line with their demands, new controls will curb financial betting on food contracts and increase the transparency of deals. The new regulations might not do absolutely everything they wanted, but they are a first step to reclaiming the world from the grip of finance. WDM and its supporters have been continually outraged by the UK government putting banks’ profits above people’s right to food by opposing tough controls throughout the negotiations. Despite some weaknesses the agreement represents huge progress.

Start planning for Climate Week – eight weeks to go

It’s time to start planning for Climate Week – eight weeks from now on 3-9 March 2014. It is Britain’s largest climate change campaign, with half a million people attending over 3,000 events each year.

Climate Week is about how people can live and work more sustainably and you can run any kind of event or activity you wish. Here are some ideas:

Enter the Climate Week Challenge, a competition for small teams in schools and workplaces. It needs no preparation, is free and helps develop teamwork. There are one-hour and one-day versions – register here. Run a Climate Week Swap event at which people can exchange clothes, books or children’s toys they don’t want any more – find out more here.

CRED Jewellery

Expelled from school, it took Greg Valerio a little while to find the right cause; then he took on the international jewellery industry. Greg was convinced about doing business well, mediating truth and justice and fighting to apply fair trade standards for producers around the world. Hear how he exposed child labour, pollution, criminality and exploitation within the industry. Learn about the impact that CRED Jewellery has had since 1996 and where its future lies. And discover what it means to be a social entrepreneur – especially speaking out against such a vast sector.

To hear Greg:

Date: 24 February 2014, 6:30pm to 8:30pm Venue: LICC, St Peter’s, Vere Street, London W1G 0DQ Cost: £7 (£5 concessions)



David Wiggs

Author: David Wiggs

I am the webmaster for Purley United Reformed Church and have been involved with the church since my late teens. I work in Croydon and live in Caterham.

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