Norway September 24, 2012 – THANK-YOU for assisting us in answering MANY, MANY Zimbabwean’s Prayers and for making a significant difference in their lives by helping us to fill our containers!! We thought you might like to hear a few thoughts of those who are distributing your ‘VERY kind gifts of love’ to these wonderful People in Zimbabwe!!
From Rachel – “Once when doing a soup kitchen in winter for the ‘street Kids’ in the middle of town, there was a little, little guy sitting on the curb – maybe 4 years old – he just sat and watched me as I dished up soup and bread for the kids in the line. He didn’t ask for anything, he didn’t even seem to have the strength to jostle with the others for a place in the line. He just watched me. When things had calmed down and most of the children had been fed, I poured some soup into a cup and offered it to him with some bread. I was still in a focused and rather busy state of mind – just trying to get everything sorted. Then he taught me one of the greatest lessons of my life – he did not reach greedily for the soup and bread as I thought he might, instead he quietly said to me – “ndirikutonorwa” (“I am SO cold”). I had presumed his need and was so busy being magnanimous and handing out food and doing good things and helping, that I actually forgot the most important aspect of service – the humanity! I got something warm out of the car and wrapped it around him and then I sat with him and talked – that little man had so much to say – I realized that these abandoned and orphaned Children need more than anything else, someone to ‘see’ them, to really see them, and to care about what they see.”
From Ranga – “As we were preparing for our youth camp, ‘For the Strength of You’, ‘Young Men’ and ‘Young Women’ August camp – we as the ‘Stake Young Women Presidency’ leaders invited some of the Relief Society, Sisters from the ‘Mabvuku’ and ‘Tafara’ Wards to help with preparations of the packing of bedding, blankets, shirts, ties, school kits, hygiene supplies etc. One of the Relief Society Sisters was so amazed to see these things, she started telling her story of her husband leaving their Family, she said she had to take care of her two Boys and three Girls as well as her younger Brothers two Children who are also HIV positive. She felt so grateful because she felt some of her biggest problems would be solved when the Children would receive their new bedding. She said they used to share one blanket between 3 people. As this camp was held during the cold weather, most of the children were so excited to get a pair of sheets, a blanket and warm clothes. Some of the young men had never owned a white shirt to wear to Church and they could hardly believe that they were getting all these items just for free – when they normally have to make great sacrifices as a Family to try and obtain just one! Most of the people within our community, were so astonished to hear from the Youth sharing the story with them how much food they had to eat and every other blessing they experienced by being at camp. Most of the single Mothers and some Grandmothers who are taking care of Children felt so blessed by their burdens being lifted by all the gifts received!
Most Zimbabweans are underprivileged, at one time in our community we had an outbreak of typhoid, diahorrea and cholera. This was caused by bad drainage systems and shortage of water. Mostly when you go to the local clinics there was no medication or drips. One time I visited our local clinic and this was the case there wasn’t any medicine. When my daughter was admitted to the ‘labour ward’ there wasn’t any mattresses, blankets and the toilet systems were down, in fact we had to carry water in buckets from home to the hospital. I had to ask the Bishop of our Ward to create a service project at the local clinic/hospital, so we donated the sanitary chemicals, drugs and blankets. That day whilst we were doing this service project in the Hospitals ‘Labour Ward’ we were blessed with 3 baby Boys and 2 Girls! At the outpatient ward we donated money to buy TB drugs and some of the more expensive drugs which the patients were asked to go and purchase by themselves, but they did not have any money to do so. All the people who were there on that day were very happy and grateful for their burdens being lifted. Now whenever the clinic needs help they just call us!
From Sharon – I felt that this was such an awe inspiring story that happened to little old me, but it needed to be told. I have to thank you for the ability I have to access Aid Relief Items by simply making one phone-call, on this particular morning it was to Rachel.
I had just finished dropping my children off at school, I arrived back at my when…Three ladies stepped out from just behind my Giant Monstera Plants that grow in planter boxes just outside my home. I had to slam on brakes, as I was turning in and presumed the gate already open. There before me was the most disturbing sight I had seen in a long time, and upon opening my car window to ask what I could do for them, their general state of dishevelment was again justified by the pungent smell of urine and vomit that filled my nostrils. I want to describe what I saw, so that you can feel what drove me to act so promptly. The three gaunt ladies stood with tattered clothes, hanging off their frail bodies. Their mouths were dry and chapped, and their hair was uncombed and partly falling out, and with a reddish colour, indicating gross malnutrition. I got out of my car, and walked towards them, smiling at them, as I saw they were nervous, and one of them was struggling to stand. Then to my shock they simultaneously pulled from their backs three of the smallest waifs I had ever set eyes on. I live in Africa, and have seen many cases of abject poverty and neglect, but this grabbed at my throat and pulled hard at my very being. The first lady held in her arms what seemed to be a two year old mentally challenged little boy.(I later found out he was five years old) The second lady had a beautiful little three year old boy, suffering from Cerebral Palsy. It seemed as if this little boy, his eyes set way back in his eye sockets, dry, chapped mouth, but with the biggest teethy smile you can imagine, his clothes consisting of a thin little vest which in its day must have resembled one piece of clothing, this was patched and tied with little pieces of string. His trousers were so small, yet they fit him perfectly, making him seem as if he was one year old. The third little girl was emaciated and suffering from ring-worm, and serious malnutrition, along with some form of downs-syndrome.
All three mothers smiled back at me, and then one lady proceeded to talk to me in rapid Shona. I called my gardener to translate for me, as I could not grasp exactly what they were saying. Translated by Tom, they told me they lived on the furthest part of Epworth Mission, a high density area, just outside Harare. They said they had no-where else to go, but were instructed by the clinic to come to my house. As you can imagine, I was very aware instantaneously that I had to act quickly. I knew that I was their last resort, and that if they could be at my house at seven-thirty in the morning, when they lived at least two hours away from where I live, they were desperate. The fatigue in their eyes, their lives painfully etched into their eyes and faces. Their urine-soaked children, and consequently urine-soaked backs from carrying them on their backs, as the mothers of Africa do, making me turn away for some relief of fresh air. It was time to act, and that is the point I made in the beginning. The knowledge of where to turn, and where I could find bounteous help was at my fingertips. I phoned Rachel and described the situation. The immediate response from Rachel was “get over here and I will give you whatever you need.”
Upon arriving at the containers, I found Rachel already digging out baby clothes, baby formula, towels, blankets, food, hygiene kits, washing detergent, adult clothing, toys, books, and soap. I kept on saying to Rachel I needed MORE! She understood without me having to go into great explanations, the only thing I said was “I was the last stop, their eyes told me that they had lost the fight, and that they had obviously been looking for days but to no avail. I was the one who had to help them out of the abyss they were in, because they had lost all hope.” I knew this because I felt the spirit of the Lord, and knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was real.
My car loaded to the hilt, no cell-phone time, and just above “E” on my petrol tank, I loaded the only passenger I could fit into my car, and the only one who could understand what I was saying. The other two ladies, I gave bus fare money to and asked that they follow and meet us in Epworth where the three ladies lived as neighbours.
I got to the outskirts of Epworth Mission, glancing at my ever-shrinking fuel-tank gauge, I prayed it would not be too much further. And on we drove, and drove and drove! The lady just kept motioning to keep going. The high density areas of Africa are a sight to behold, mango trees, maize, vegetable stands, buses, chickens running amuck, and dust flying up with the noise of the people. We drove past all of that, until we came to the furthest reaches of the inhabited area, and there she touched my shoulder and signalled me to stop. Red light on my fuel tank, no cell-phone time, no money in my bag, but donning my sunglasses, I climbed out of the car. I choked back the tears as I looked upon what they classified as their homes, pieces of tin sheeting and cardboard, no mango trees, no veggie gardens, and no sign that water was found in this barren place.
Slowly out of the tin shacks people started to walk towards me, most of them suffering with some form of disability, poverty exacerbating it even more. I did not feel afraid at all, I was alone on an errand for the Lord and I knew He had full control of this situation. I felt as if He had assisted them to finding my gate, and for that I am very grateful.
They stood silently, but with a sweet smile on their faces. Grace told them that I was there to help them and that they should listen to what I asked them. I explained to what amounted to close to a hundred people that I was helping these three families, but that I would return. I could see their pain and their needs, and would do something about it on my return to Harare. They graciously helped the three ladies carry all their goods to their shacks, and then returned to the car and waited. I wished that I had ten ton trucks full of welfare aid to distribute, but committed to returning soon. Grace explained to them that I would return and they wished me a safe trip home.
By now, my sunglasses were off, as I wanted them to see the sincerity of my pledge in my eyes, and that I felt their pain and wanted to help. The gift of simply washing powder and baby milk, along with food, changed their lives, and the gratitude they showed, with the dignity and grace of royalty was overwhelming for me. I drove home slowly, contemplating the mammoth task that lay ahead, but determined to make a difference to that community that had been shunned and forgotten by society, because of their disabilities, which is considered a curse in the African culture.
I cried all the way home, did not have to look at my fuel gauge because I knew this was the Lord’s errand. I was very grateful for the access I had to help these families, by the kind gifts of people thousands of miles away on different continents. People with consciences, people who refuse to turn a blind eye to the plight of the people of Zimbabwe.
I know that my return to Epworth Mission is tantamount, as they believed me when I said that I would return to help. Thank-you for affording me the ability of doing just that, of keeping my word to people who need this help the most. Much Love, Sharon
From Esther – “There are widows and orphans who are desperate. One widow had a daughter and a son. First her daughter died of AIDS leaving a daughter of 3 years old behind. Then her daughter in law died of AIDS leaving her a 3 month old boy. Finally her son died of AIDS. How was she going to feed this child. There was formula sent over in the containers which was able to keep this baby going as purchasing baby formula is not even a possibility because of the meager wages this grandmother earns and the prohibitive cost of infant formula. The children both received clothing and blankets. Both have survived – in fact the baby is now 18 months old and finally weaned off the baby milk and is now having Admit as a nutritional supplement.
A couple who live below the poverty line had a set of twins, 18 months later due to a failure of birth control, a second set of twins was born to this same couple. What a shock! No money, too many small children and no way to support them. They were given bedding, clothing, food (Atmit) and most importantly baby formula. Thanks to the gifts from these containers this family has survived and has no way to express their gratitude to the people who live so far away who have sent these things to keep us alive!”
From Reg & Iris – “Many people with small children come to our gate, this happens most every day. We are able to give them blankets/quilts, rice, clothing, shoes (which are almost always worn through). School kits are always a great blessing because it is very expensive for the parents to try and pay school fees and school uniforms, they very often cannot afford to send children to school but at least with a school kit they can practice at home.
Three Matrons from ‘Harare Hospital’ came and collected a truck full of clothing, food, crutches, walkers, sheets, blankets, newborn kits as many of the Patients arrive with nothing and the hospitals own resources are minimal. They were absolutely desperate for sheets, sanitary towels and diapers for the neo natal wards.
Atmit has been given as a life support for many people dying from HIV/AIDS – the waiting lists for ARV’s are very long and many times people die before they can gain access to them. However Atmit has strengthened these people enough by boosting their immune system they can get out of bed, go back to work and continue to support and look after their own Children. We can prevent children from becoming orphans by giving their parents Atmit and keeping them alive.
We have helped ‘Howard Hospital’ extensively which attends to 275000 people in the surrounding areas! We have been able to send medical equipment, hygiene kits, newborn kits, clothing, school kits, toys, blankets, rice, Atmit, walkers, wheelchairs (which we have a profound shortage of!). This hospital has provided so much treatment to needy people free of charge – it has saved literally tens of thousands of lives! They depend on donations to sustain its operation. We also carry out large numbers of cataract operations using ‘Howard Hospitals’ facilities, performed by Dr Chinogure and his team who kindly donate their time to ‘Eyes for Zimbabwe’.
‘Chivhu Hospital’ and a number of additional Hospitals & Clinics have also benefited greatly from the kind donations by all those who contribute so generously to these containers.
This work is sacred, it is definitely the Lords work, we are sorry that you are not able to see the faces of those who receive your kind gifts, we definitely have the greatest of privileges being able to see these items in the hands of these deserving and desperate people. Our heartfelt thanks go to those very kind people who make the time and effort to donate so selflessly to the people of Zimbabwe – I pray one day in heaven you will be able to meet the people whose lives you have touched – you have no idea how many people you will see!!”
From Suppa – “I have to say no one gives us things for free here in Zimbabwe except ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints’. This Church look after us, they give us things like clothes, blankets, shoes, school kits, school fees and many more. I say we are so happy for the kind People of this Church who look after us – thank you for everything which you have sent. Whenever we give things to these people they are so shocked because they can’t believe at first that someone can love them enough to give to us and then they always say “God Bless You because you gave God a way to help us.””
From Kelly-Ann – “Our Ward decided on a project which would benefit both Adults and Children, we decided to focus on a little school on the outskirts of Harare, ‘Domboshava Primary School’. This little school needed help in various areas and so as a ward we picked a Saturday where everyone who was able, gave of their time and assisted in every way possible, to make this particular project successful. There were various areas of concern for us; however we were only able to address three areas where we could try to make a difference.
- We decided to clean up the fields and outside area of the school, so the children could play safely during recess time. This included cleaning up, repairing and painting the existing swings etc. in their playground. We were also able to secure some used tires which we added to their play area, once we cleaned up the sandpit.
- We secured some paint which we then used to paint the interior and exterior of a new hall that they had just recently built. Unfortunately due to lack of funds, the school itself was unable to finish it off and so we took this on as another one of the areas wherewith we were able to assist them.
- The third and possibly most important area where we were able to be of assistance was with the donation of books, paper, pens, pencils, crayons, rulers, sharpeners etc., which both the Junior and Senior Schools were in serious need of. Up to this point they had no libraries of any sort. We then proceeded to clean up one of the classrooms near the administration block of the school and set up what hopefully will be the start of a well-stocked library for them. We were also able to include a few educational toys for the younger pupils.
Many of the children from the school came along to see what we were doing as they all live close by and were very excited at the prospect of having books to read and so they too joined in to help us clean up and set up the books. Some of the Parents then approached us about donating a large number of books for the ‘Senior School’ and for the Adults in the area, as the Women in the nearby community run a book exchange, where a youngster on a bicycle travels around the area once a week with a selection of books that anyone is able to borrow and return once it has been read. The donation of the books and other items has managed not only to help the Junior and Senior Schools, but has also been able to assist the various Men and Women in the area to secure and read various literature, which for many of them in the community is a rarity. Our program was recognized by the ‘council men and women’ in the area and we were thanked for our kind contributions, which not only affected the lives of the children in the two schools, but a whole community has benefited by the literature which we ourselves often take for granted!
Thank you for helping us to make a significant difference!!!”
From Reg – “The wonderful privilege of carrying out this distribution and gathering of equipment and supplies has enabled me to witness some of the kindest charitable acts that I have seen. As I stand by the containers and you look around and see the sparse clothing that the recipients are wearing, the food that has no variation and then you hear of their struggle to find the bus fare to return to their homes so far away. You realize that this is an opportunity to lift your fellow Brothers and Sisters, their reflection of gratitude is enormous in their eyes! I have seen one old Lady who had the opportunity to gather 5 items of clothing and 2kgs of rice & lentils, when a neighbor came and mentioned her plight saying that she had been told there was no more clothing or rice left, this old Lady then offered half of the little she had received to her neighbor saying “We can share – you have more need of this than me!” In other instances I have seen the distribution of bread and to people who love bread but haven’t tasted it for many months, they cannot keep the smiles off their faces! Other kind acts were watching a little Grand-Daughter feeding her Grand-Mother, a Sibling feeding all 4 of his Siblings and watching them as they don’t want to swallow, they just want to keep chewing and keep the bread in their mouths for as long as they can! This same Family we did didn’t have the right size of clothing for the littlest Daughter but their oldest Sister said – “We can take my dress and change it into dresses for all three of my siblings and if we have any fabric over we can make my little Brother a pair of shorts.” Coming closer to home I have watched our Gardeners Son with his younger Sisters and how kind he is and how proud he is of them being able to hold their heads up wherever they go – why? Because their Father pays his Tithing and helps the neighbors that live around him who are in need. Children witnessing Parents acts of kindness respond by wanting to emulate the acts themselves. The Gospel teaches us that when people are in need they really find it difficult to listen but once you have satisfied the need for basic commodities ie. food clothing shelter they will give you their full attention – when they ask you why do you do it – you are able to explain – that is what your Heavenly Father wants me to do. The great accolades that have been showered on the Church are because we are practicing what our Heavenly Father has asked us to do – ‘Love the Lord, love your neighbor and do good to everyone you can!’”