I arrived in Zimbabwe in October 2004, and since then have been involved in Mutare Diocese, as a pastoral worker, amongst many destitute women and children. I have worked with many of the families who lost their homes in the "Clean Up" operation in Zimbabwe, often supplying those displaced, with food, and clothing and paying rent for some months when such families could find a place to live.
One of these families was particularly stressed, in great need of help. A young disabled man and woman with twins (boy and girl) aged two, had just had triplets (all girls) and were in dire need of shelter, food and clothing, particularly baby milk as the mother could not cope with the three babies. The F.M.S.A. became involved and for the past year have supplied them with baby milk, food and clothing for the whole family, and paid rent for them for a room to get them off the road. Thanks to generous gifts from family and friends of Elizabeth Murphy, Eunice Quigley and myself, we managed to keep the family alive. Because of the number of donations we received, we managed to buy a plot of land and an architect friend volunteered his services to draw up plans and supervise the building of a house for them. Just before I came on leave to Ireland, I had the joy of visiting them in their new home and they are truly most grateful to everyone who helped.
The triplets were a year old on the 25th August, and the twins will be four in December this year. The fact that they have survived thus far is truly thanks to generous benefactors, and the loving tender care given to these children by their father and mother, who consider each one of them as a blessing. They describe their children as "Double and triple Blessings!!
Now I am in Chipinge with Rose Nakku and Louise Malone, and once again I am involved with the care of the many children orphaned by AIDS. We take care of 200 at the moment, paying school fees for them, providing them with a school uniform and give them a food distribution as often as funds permit. You will be aware that donations from people in Scotland have been generous, and we are using this for the care of the orphans, plus food and medical care for the AIDS patients. We have two young mothers caring for twins and in both cases we have supplied them with food, clothing, and paid rent and electricity bills for them to enable them to care for their children.
Most of this is emergency help, which is a dire necessity in the situation prevailing in Zimbabwe of today, but we are also trying to enable women and young teenage orphan boys to set up little businesses, so that they can get out of the poverty trap and become independent. We have had a number of successes in this venture, but many failures too, as the women are often harassed when they try to get involved in buying and selling in the local markets, and have their goods confiscated. However, we do not lose heart. The Lord provides resources just when we need them and thanks to the generosity of so many caring people we are able to keep going.
One thing that always amazes me is the faith of those among whom we work. Often, when we visit people they will invite us to pray with them, and inevitably they always pray for those who send the gifts we are happy to channel to them.