Bob and I left Malalane on Friday the 11th of December with a fully loaded UD80 to take the food parcels and the Christmas gifts to the old folk in the Western part of the country- Attie and Liz having taken their ‘Santa’s Sledge’ on the trip around the Eastern and Central part of Zimbabwe.
We arrived in Musina that evening and as the papers had not been processed on the Zimbabwe side of the border, spent the night at our wonderful hosts, the Camerons, in Musina- Thanks to you both for your kindness and may the Lord bless you in the year ahead.
After a good nights sleep we collected our papers from our South African clearing agents and cleared the South African side fairly quickly and crossed the bridge.
The Zimbabwe side of the border was busy with vehicles queuing on the bridge and it took about 40 minutes before we were able to commence with the border formalities. Again long queues at immigration resulted in it taking about 3 hours to pass through immigration and then long delays in completing customs formalities resulting in us only clearing the border at 20h30 that evening.
Zimbabwe Customs should have entered a team in the world cup. They would be sure to do well as they are masters at moving the goal posts. On this occasion we were held up because, would you believe, the Health Inspector wanted a Vet’s Certificate for the tinned meats in each parcel- I am still trying to reason this one out.
As there is not much in the way of accommodation between Biet Bridge and Bulawayo, we decided to drive through and arrived in Byo at 01h30.
The next morning we made deliveries to Kingshaven MOTHS Cottages and then to the various homes around central Bulawayo.
I wish you could have experienced with us the joy of these old folk in receiving these parcels which will make such a difference to their Christmas and then to top it all for me, was to play Father Christmas, because of your kindness, and generosity and to give to each one of them the Christmas Gifts you have so kindly provided.
There were many a thankful tear and without fail each of these old folk expressly asked us to convey back to each of you their grateful thanks for your kindness THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, one and ALL.
I am reminded of our Lords words in ,”what you do for the least of my followers you do for me.”
For me, the most significant part of the trip came that afternoon when we were able to deliver the bicycles, so kindly donated by some of you to the needy family in Bulawayo.
When we arrived they were very depressed, things have been going from bad to worse, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply commission had just presented them with a bill of US$7,000 for electricity (which they cannot possibly pay) and were being threatened with their supply being cut off. They did not have sufficient food to feed their 3 little children and had therefore been forced to ask the brother to take them in whilst they were living on mealie meal.
When we opened the truck doors and they saw the bicycles, the food parcels and the Christmas gifts they broke down in tears.
That night we again were treated to a wonderful evening with Craig and Les and a comfortable night in their lodge.
The following day we visited the remainder of the homes in Bulawayo. We were told that the astronomical electrical bills is common throughout Bulawayo and at Jacaranda House met the chairman of the management committee who told us that they had received a bill for US$35000. They were unable to meet this bill and were thus having to close the home down and were in the process of finding alternative accommodation for these old folk.
Vacancies have occurred in some homes due to some of the old folk being repatriated to the U.K. and thus, accommodating these old folk appears to be in hand.
As reported in the last trip report, things are not becoming easier for these old folk but more difficult and this new twist is evidence of this fact.
We then left Bulawayo and travelled up to Gwelo, where we delivered the parcels to Boggies and Huisversig. A big THANK YOU to all the ex Thornhill School pupils for your kind donation which made these parcels possible. The old folk asked us to specifically thank you and will be writing letters of thanks to you ,which hopefully will be collected on the first trip in 2010 .
A comfortable night was spent with our kind hosts Attie and Anna Scheepers, thank you guys once again.
Again, just to emphasize the difficulties the old folk face. ALL transactions are now in US dollars or South African Rand (on a 10 to 1 basis) and ALL transactions are in cash, which means if you want to buy a house you have to have the dollars or rands, in cash, no cheques or bank notes or promissory notes or accounts- it’s cash on the table so if you ain’t got you don’t get. Plain and simple. Which is great if you have got it but impossible if you don’t.
The next day we made deliveries to Shurugwe, Muus Lodge (Thanks to the Kloof Round Table for the parcels) and then to the Zvishavanie Old folk.
We delivered to one old couple who’s pension from the mine amounts to US$47 a month. In order to try and supplement his income he’s started selling chickens. He was telling us that his plan was to have chickens ready for Christmas but that 2 day’s before all his stock of some 150 birds had contracted chicken flue and he had lost the lot. That was his income gone. Despite this setback he was still trying to give a gift to our contact who had taken us to visit them- what a humbling experience.
Having completed all our deliveries, it was once again, with heavy hearts that we returned to South Africa on the 17th of December.
Thank you all once again for your steadfast support in making this trip possible and for providing a little bit of joy to these old folk at this time of year.
May the LORD bless you for your kindness.