‘EYES4ZIMBABWE’ MARCH HIGHLIGHTS…
By Rachel Nield-Geranios & Robert Godi
On the18th of March we departed at 3am and headed towards Gokwe through Kwekwe. Along the way we distributed stationary and hygiene kits and shoes during the early morning as children were on their way to school.
Once we were on the dirt road, I felt impressed to take a small detour to ‘Chimahororo Clinic’. After our introductions we walked around the clinic and through discussions with the nursing staff we came to understand that they have had no medications or basic medical supplies with which to treat their patients. We did expect this but had not anticipated the severity of the situation…there was not even paracetamol available. In our supplies we had very little in the way of medications, however we were able to give them thermometers, sphygmometers, first aid dressings etc.
We also visited with the waiting Mothers’ shelter and realized they had very little food, no blankets and medications. The clinic itself was out of Plumbi-nut, which is used throughout Zimbabwe to treat malnutrition in children, consequently the arrival of ATMIT was a God-send for the Children and the waiting Mothers. The expectant Mothers stay in the very humble accommodations at the clinic, as they live very far from the clinic and they do not know their delivery dates. One of the Mothers has been living there for 5 months as she has no home and had nowhere else to go, the only clothing she had was the dress she was wearing. She was not prepared at all for the arrival of her new baby, so she was very grateful for the newborn kit.
I immediately prepared some ATMIT on the open fire and gave it to each of the pregnant Women. They were hungry and thought it was delicious. We also left them with hygiene kits as the poverty in this area was great. We left the clinic with a list of their immediate medication needs and promised to do our best to meet them.
We proceeded to Siabuwa and along the way we met a partially blind man who was using a cane to feel his way along the road. We stopped and tried various strengths of glasses on him. As it turned out, that was all he needed. With a 3.5 strength pair of glasses, a new coat, a blanket and a hygiene kit, he tossed his cane aside and proceeded cheerfully along his way.
At each of the points where we distribute these goods, when the people try to thank us, we are always quick to remind them that these are gifts from Their Heavenly Father and if there are any thanks to be made it should be made in prayer. It is always a joy to remind them that Their Heavenly Father knows them, loves them and sees them and sees their needs.
Around lunchtime when the sun was at it’s hottest, l felt impressed that we needed to stop and re-organize the truck.
Following is a recollection in the words of Robert Godi:
“As far as I was concerned, Rachel insisted on stopping in an impossible position, especially according to road regulation, but I decided not to argue about it as I have already witnessed several of the miracles on this trip. She had been driving since early hours and had received no sleep the night before we left, as we were packing the truck. There was a sharp corner just before us, despite this when I mentioned this to Rachel, she simply replied: “I feel impressed to stop here, so I am.” Very shortly after that, two tired and tatty looking women approached in the company of one man. We gave them one or two things however as we were speaking, one of the women mentioned that they were going to visit a family whose homestead had been struck by lightning. I asked if we might accompany them.
Rachel started the truck, however we only had to drive 10m ahead to turn into the grass path that led to their yard. It was a terrible sight. The hut that they called their ‘main hut’ that contained all of their belongings, looked as though it had been hit by a mortar bomb. Only part of the wall still stands. As they narrated the event that took place, our hearts were sad and our eyes were full. Their food, blankets, grain, clothing and all their basic essentials were gone, lost in the fire.
Lovemore and I sorted out some items whilst Rachel colored with the children (it was the first time they had seen crayons and paper) and Midiah spoke with the women. They acknowledged that our arrival was a miracle and surely the work of the Lord.”
Along the way to Siabuwa the bush was lush and green, showing good rains had arrived, however, the rains this year have caused flooding. The impact of all this extra water has been disasterous. We handed out items along the way to men, women and children. The people in this area are of the Tonga Tribe, they are very poor and very humble. Almost none of them have shoes, and everybody’s clothes, were tattered. They were incredibly humble. This is an area where we would like to focus our distribution on in May. The villages are dotted along the very pot-holed road.
Slowly they began to emerge from the surrounding bush, patiently waiting in line to see how we might be able to help them.
We stopped at a very inspired position facing downhill with a view of all the children walking home from school. The reason the place was inspired was because it turned out that we were parked right outside the homestead of the village health worker. His pleas echoed those of all the clinics and health workers along the way. He was desperate for medication – anything! Just paracetamol would do, as they had nothing in the area with which to treat the many ailments including Malaria.
Again in the words of Robert Godi:
“Women and children started trickling towards our spot. Rachel was cleaning wounds and nursing them. She cleaned and dress several people there. Clothes, newborn kits and school kits were donated and people were very happy.
The forceful team of ours were comprised of me, Robert Godi, Lovemore Thomas, who is very experienced in his work, and Midiah Juru. Rachel Nield-Geranios is our team manager. She coordinates well on an event, and we, meaning Lovemore and I, know well the locations of our items in the truck. When it comes to safety and securing – that is my department. Midiah Juru does well with the little ones, especially when we stop at night. We use her to calm the children down and encourage them not to run away, so that we may assist them. At this sight, many high school children came, none of whom had school supplies. They were SO grateful to receive our school kits.”
We continued along the dirt road towards Binga. By now it was late at night, however as we have found to be common in this area there were small groups of children dotted along the road. As they have no parents and no homes they are often out late at night huddled together for safety. We stopped to assist several of these groups. These children are always in the most disheveled state with no shoes, very tattered clothing, skin diseases and signs of malnutrition. Everything we give them is exciting for them to get, however the soap, food and a blanket seem to fill each of their most basic needs and they are often unable to adequately express their gratitude.
By the time we reached Binga where we were staying the night, it was well after midnight and we were exhausted. The next morning we proceeded to Hwange where we met up with the Biberston Family at the Swift Depot (Swift – a courier who transports our good around Zimbabwe for free). There we had lunch and proceeded to load three vehicles with clothing, school, newborn and medical supplies, and of course ATMIT.
Guided by Akim, the Swift Depot Manager we proceeded to Mwemba, where we visited the waiting mother’s shelter and distributed newborn kits and also ATMIT to be administered to the children suffering from malnutrition.
As we were leaving, a man pushed a boy of approximately 15 years of age towards us in a poorly maintained wheelchair and asked us for assistance. The condition of the boy was appalling. It was clear that he had not been bathed in a very long time, his hair was tangled and matted to his head. The smell of him was overpowering and he had several wounds that were festering and covered in flies. He wore nothing but a worn and tattered pair of shorts. His family were asking for material assistance, however we could not, in good conscience simply give them some items and leave.
We all jumped out of the car and got to work. Lovemore and Robert Godi began to look for things which Bertie and his Family needed. Midiah got busy washing and cutting his hair. Dana Biberston and I got organized with a bucket of water and set about giving the boy a bath. Due to his mental impairment he was resistant at first, however we soon discovered that, like most of us, he has a great weakness for sugar, so throughout his bath time we bribed him with sweets.
As we pealed the dirt away, and began applying soothing antibiotic ointment to his wounds his temperament changed and he began to express his gratitude for how it felt to be clean. We then disinfected his wheelchair. Sadly we did not have another one to replace it with. When we finally settled him into his new clothing, he was joyful and with unsturdy movements, he roughly grabbed my hands and shakily placed them on his head, and with broken shona, this boy (Bertie) asked me to pray for him. Overcome with emotion I knelt by his chair and sang for him: ‘She we denga” (God Be With You) When I was done, I invited Robert Godi, assisted by Elder Biberston and his son, Ryan to answer this boy’s request to pray for him and give him a blessing.
It was a beautiful and tender moment, as the entire community was present and had witnessed the clean-up of ‘Bertie’ from start to finish. They saw first-hand the miracle, as for the first time during this ordeal, he sat perfectly still, reverently, as they prayed and blessed him. What a privilege and honor to meet such a great soul with such respect for his Heavenly Father. As we prepared to leave the community, the village head-man approached us and offered us his profound thanks for what we had done for his community. With grateful hearts we were able to share our testimony of The Gospel and Ministry of our Savior Jesus Christ.
We closed with songs and a prayer and left the village Headman and each of the nurses and school teachers with scriptures and other books. Again as they offered their thanks, we reminded them as we have countless others before that all thanks should be made in prayer to their Heavenly Father, as our visit was an inspired miracle, all goods were kindly donated and came as a reminder to His people that He is mindful of their needs.
Next we came to ‘Mashala Primary School’ where we donated 380 library books to the school. Clothing and school supplies were given to the children and staff. Again we shared with them the message of Jesus Christ, leaving with them literature to read and share. We thanked them for their selfless service as the conditions in which they are educating these little ones are less than ideal. It was wonderful to see Elder and Sister Biberston’s Grandchildren interacting with these Children as they shared the gifts they had brought all the way from America. It meant so much to the Children of the school that people had come from so far to see them and help them.
There are cases of extreme poverty, especially amongst the orphaned Children. They were so excited to receive the school bags and some clothing even though it was ill fitting. As a request from whomever we serve, we always leave with a word of prayer. There is always a beautiful Spirit to be felt as we truly feel the love The Lord has for His Children. There are times when I feel that more appreciated than the gifts we bring, is the hope we leave, that God lives, and that they are truly His Children and are important in His eyes.
Eventually, we made our way to a Secondary School, which acts as an unofficial boarding school. Many of the Children have been walking 25-30km one way to school every day. The school is unable to feed them, it merely provides basic shelter for the Children to utilize during the week. The Children have to prepare meals of their own either with food the Families have sent with them or what they can find in the surrounding areas. The arrival of ATMIT was a Blessing to all. In addition to the food we were able to give them clothing, school kits, and books. Unfortunately we did not have enough Bibles for all the Children.
Whist there, we were able to treat the burns of a young Boy who had been severely injured while preparing his evening meal a few nights before. He had been to the local clinic, unfortunately they did not have the necessary supplies to dress his wounds. We dressed his burns and left him with supplies to change the dressing in a few days. It was very late by the time we left and we had a long journey through to Victoria Falls.
Early the next morning, we collected our goods from the Swift Depot in Victoria Falls and proceeded to Jambezi.
Aside from the individuals we helped along the way, we also stopped at a few homesteads. Eventually we reached ‘Sacred Heart Mission Clinic’. However l felt impressed to press on, despite the great need presented by the clinic staff. Approximately 10km further down the road we found a primary school, which caters for 450 pupils. On this day at exactly the time we arrived, all the 21 Village Heads from the surrounding area were gathering for a meeting. What a blessing it was to have them all there to witness first hand as we distributed the goods to the Children of their community.
Again we provided them with literature, and they were excited to witness the donation of a full primary and secondary school library, as it has been the focus of this school to develop a community library, that would service all the villages. The miracles which God provides are always so much more impressive than any plans that we might have had. As always, when we follow the inspiration we receive, the timing of everything was absolutely perfect.
Though our supplies were finished upon our return to ‘Sacred Heart Mission’, we were able to organize transport from Swift to bring them the ATMIT they need to facilitate the malnourished in the community, however we did distribute newborn kits to Mothers awaiting delivery.
This distribution marked the end of our time with the Biberstons. We were sad to see them go, but we are profoundly grateful for the great contribution they made both in time and in goods which they sacrificed and brought to assist the people of Zimbabwe.
Following is another excerpt from Robert Godi’s journal:
“As we started the journey from the ‘Victoria Falls Rest Camp’ Rachel parked the car near a food outlet. She pulled out some money for us to buy food and snacks for our journey as we were to travel through the night. She asked me to go to TM Supermarket which was further away than OK Supermarket, which was right next door to our Food outlet. I didn’t want to go, but I didn’t argue and I asked Lovemore to accompany me. As we entered the Supermarket I met my nephew who I have been trying to locate for some time, he was very happy and he asked us to go together to his home. There we met the whole family and the most outstanding thing on this visit was that Lovemore, when handing out some school items to the community children gave some items to a young boy who was inexpressibly happy about the gift. He ran urgently and called his sister to receive one of her own. As I spoke to my nephew, he explained that their father had passed away 2 weeks ago. They really needed the lift and the love.”
At approximately 7pm we entered ‘Victoria Falls District Hospital’ and were met by some very excited nurses. We distributed newborn kits and clothing to all the waiting and recently delivered mothers. As a group they declared that we must be in the service of our God because He had heard their prayers. They were so thankful!
As we proceeded to Hwange, we passed through ‘St. Patrick’s Mission Hospital’. Like all the hospitals and clinics before, they were struggling. Some in the children’s ward were sleeping on the floor, because the hospital does not have enough beds. In the waiting room of this facility sat a group of women and children who were sheltering from the rain whilst awaiting transport to a funeral some distance away. Though they were not there for treatment, most of them had an ailment of some kind. We were able to treat their headaches, dihorrhea, skin conditions and give them blankets to stay warm and toys for the children. Just as we had administered to the last patient, their transport arrived, however they were now prepared for their long journey with medicines, food, clothing and blankets. Once again they expressed their gratitude to their Heavenly Father.
We continued through the night and stopped between Hwange and Lupane at a small clinic called ‘St. Mary’s’. There we found 23 young women awaiting delivery. Some had walked from as far as Binga to get there. They had no shoes and no clothing. They wore a simple piece of fabric, tied about them. For them the gift of a newborn kit was almost beyond comprehension. It is always in moments like these that you truly feel that you are ‘about Heavenly Father’s business’. We drove through the night trying to get home for a meeting the following day.
We almost didn’t have enough money to make this trip possible, but the Lord is kind and we found a way. Many ask how it is that I can leave my Children for four days and I always answer: ‘They are safe. They are warm. They have food enough and People that love them. Where I am going there is no one! Where I am going they need someone. Whenever it is possible, I take my Boys along to witness first- hand the work we are doing. It is my fervent prayer that they will grow up having a testimony of service, having experienced the difference they can make.
It is my prayer that they will understand, that they will be grateful and that they will have a love for their Brothers and Sisters regardless of race, tribe, religion, sex, social standing, and most importantly that they will have a love for our Savior Jesus Christ.