This report is reprinted from IN TOUCH WITH CHURCH AND FAITH #169, a Jescom publication.
This morning a young woman came to say good-bye. She had come from New Zealand to attend the funeral of her grandmother. This afternoon she is flying back to her family and her job as a nursing sister. “Don’t forget us. And come back one day. There are plenty of sick people also here in Zimbabwe,” I tell her. She promises, yes she will be back. The problem with “coming back” is of course, that, while the parents may well want to come back, the children are now New Zealanders, or Britons or Americans and have no emotional ties to Zimbabwe.
In the meantime our friends in the “diaspora” keep their families back home alive with regular money transfers. Unemployment, followed by shortage of housing, remain our big problems.
Absurdly, certain “leaders” – what sort of “leadership” is that? – try to sabotage development projects which would provide people with jobs and housing projects which would give accommodation to the homeless. But there is a party which frustrates all progress unless they can claim the credit for it. Unemployed youth, who are not just out of work, but have never worked in their lives, are used to do the dirty work, beating construction workers and intimidating potential beneficiaries.
But there are people who are not intimidated. Women of our church community have formed a housing cooperative: they keep paying money into their common fund. This money is then used to extend the house of member No One; while going on collecting money they extend house No. Two, and so on until all members’ houses have been refurbished and extended. A brilliant idea, and it works.
This month we focussed on the sick and elderly, the paralyzed and bedridden who normally cannot come to Church, but are visited and given the Blessed Sacrament in their homes by our Ministers of Holy Communion, men and women commissioned by the Bishop for this task.
We were glad that some handicapped people, especially children, came. Often their parents hesitate to bring them to Church. Do they feel embarrassed? They should not be. We encouraged them to bring them whenever possible, and asked the congregation to make them feel welcome.
At a training session for newly elected leaders of neighbourhood groups the point was made that care of the sick is their No One task. No sick person in our parish community should ever feel lonely or neglected. We do not claim to be able to work miracles (as some “prophets” do: “Come and see your miracle!” is their slogan). Our “miracle” is care and concern by the community. And expert help by professionals who volunteer to give advice and assistance.
A blind and paralyzed woman is being given physiotherapy and a man who had a bad stroke is made mobile with a wheelchair and put back on his feet with a walking frame. These are our little “miracles”.