We got together in Malelane to load the two trucks and spent the whole day packing and ensuring that everything was in order and correctly packed as we had many Christmas gifts to load as well as lovely tasty Lion Fruit Cakes donated from various Lion Clubs in Tzaneen, Johannesburg and Pretoria. We felt as if we were loading Santa’s sleighs as we made sure the precious cargos would not move around in transit and be damaged. We thank all the persons who so lovingly gave of their time, money and substance to help us to bring much needed Christmas cheer to the needy neglected folk in the old age homes in Zimbabwe.
We got up early to finish loading the last few goodies and set off for the border at 10 o’clock, stopped over in Duiwelskloof to get last minute goodies and the mandatory “padkos” from my dear wife Liz. We hit the road and arrived at the border town of Musina rather late at 8 o’clock that evening and slept over at our good friends Henry and Elizabeth Cameron’s home.
We headed for the border early arriving at around 7 o’clock and completed the crossing by half past two that afternoon. Once across we split up and Daniel headed for Bulawayo and we to Masvingo. We came across many animal carcases and motor wrecks, the evidence of the dangers of accidents for those not alert en route. The road between Beitbridge and Masvingo is notorious for accidents as it is in poor condition and most drivers career along as if on a death-wish mission. We do everything to avoid night driving in Zimbabwe. We arrived in Masvingo at 18.40 and the ever-faithful Ms Lulu McKenzie was waiting for us with labour to get the goods for that area off the truck for us. As we were already 3 days behind schedule we got to bed as soon as we could, spending the night at the Burger residence in their absence.
We managed to get onto the road at 05.30 and hightailed it to Chivhu where we met with Mr Albert Kirstein and his wife Leanie, leaving the hampers, gifts and cakes for the folk there with them. In spite of being elderly, they have taken it upon themselves to see to the spreading of the goods each trip.
After wishing each other well we left for Mutare. We arrived there at 12.30 and were wisped away to have lunch. During lunch our host Des Becker told us that the situation in the town was rather tense as the ZANU-PF were preparing for a rally to canvas votes fore the up coming elections next year. Based on that information and considering our cargo and target group we together decided that it was best to keep a low profile and unload all the goods at Des’s depot and he would distribute all in the next day or two. A sensible move I think. So we were all off loaded, repacked and off to rest by 17.00. In doing so we did manage to make up some lost time on our tight schedule.
We managed to get onto the road just after 8 o’clock and headed towards Rusape. Arriving at the Resthaven Home we found that Des had correctly alerted them of our ETA and after the drop we were treated to a welcome cuppa and fresh cake. We felt real special and spoilt. How humbling and special it is to be able to put smiles on the folk’s faces. Boet met a long lost pal and I found it difficult to drag him away there.
After about an hour we set off for Harare. As the Futter family are away on leave we managed to get an alternative venue at the Bezer residence to unload the goods for the Harare outlets and homes. Apart from supplying a number of outsiders, we also supply directly to SOAP and Waterfall Nursing Home. We then parked the truck and spent the night with Philip and Claire Gilbert Green, our Harare hosts.
Using Philip’s van we rushed off very early to Bindura to do the Mazoe Valley Trust folk before we set off for Chinhoyi to do the Sunningdale Home. We arrived just in time for lunch and were given a good filling meal before dropping the load and picking up the empties. We left for Kadoma and had to push along to make sure we get there in good time to do the delivery. Here too the folk were waiting for us and Elsie Gilmore and clan made sure we got it all done in record time. It was both painful and privileging to witness the “grand old ladies” pick up the empty boxes, some two in each hand and bring them to the truck. It is true, you cannot break a Rhodesian Spirit. These folk smile, laugh, joke and never speak a negative word regarding their lot. More than anything else, I want to be like that when I get old. Don’t know when that will be because none of them admit to being old. May our Lord, RAIN HIS BLESSINGS and COMFORT on them all. We managed to eventually get away and headed for Kwekwe. Here Ken Connelly juiced up the wagon and as it was already after 6pm we parked the wagon at his house and were put up for the night by him and his wife Beda. The next morning we were welcomed by rain and dropped all the goods for both the homes, Lynbrook and Herbert Lee in his garage and he would also do the drop when the rain abated. He was also planning a special event for the oldies so it worked out well.
After dropping the goods we left for Gweru and went to Boggies where we were able to give a new set of crutches to Fred Munger who has severe problems with his knees. The man was overawed and most thankful. We also dropped some of the Lions cakes at both Boggies and Huisvergesig before we headed for Bulawayo
Here we went and met with two great gentlemen, Mario Da Silva and Trevor Williams who have undertaken to assist us with fuel for our trucks on future trips. After sharing our quest with them they have come on board with full passion. God bless you guys and we pray His prosperity upon you. We spent the night at Coronation Cottages per kind favour of the management.
Up early to leave at 4am for the border arriving there at 08.30am, across by 15.00 and at home in Duiwelskloof at about 19.00.
Up early again and off to Malelane to take Boet back so he could get back to his home and wife in Secunda, and then back home for the Christmas break for me and all of us at the Fund.
At this point I would like to add some portions of Daniels trip report and as I do so, please note, he is self employed and he and his family have a huge passion for the old folk and the needs they have. I have on occasion visited their home to pick up supplies and found the family crammed into a corner while the much needed supplies gathered from you folk, fill the house. They assets to the fund indeed., Thank you Daniel and the whole family, we love and appreciate you, you are STARS!!
From Daniel’s Pen
Thursday 8th December
I was privileged to have my lovely wife Elza and daughter, Stephanie join me and we left home in Kloof, Durban around 15.00 arriving in Malelane at 00.30 and quickly bedded down at Yvonne’s house for the remainder of the night. Up early to transfer goods we brought up from Natal into the two trucks as we were preparing to leave as soon as they were loaded.
Once across the border we parted company and took the trail towards Bulawayo. We stopped at Todd’s Hotel to enquire about future stay over possibilities and a much-needed drink, as the border crossing was quite tiresome. We then drove to kings Haven Cottages at Esigodini and delivered our 1st consignment. From here we headed for Bulawayo and bedded down at Coronation Cottages at 2000 that night. Our complements and thanks to the people that organised our room. It was delightful.
Sunday the 11th saw us very busy as we tried to do as much as possible without denying the oldies the personal touch. We did Coronation Cottages, Verity Amm Centre, Edith Duly, Masonic Lodge. Queen Mary, Railstein House, Garden Park and a whole bunch of outsiders. It was while doing the outsiders that we met Mrs Dauth and oh dear, her situation and need got us down to tears. At Edith Duly too we were disturbed by the need of medical care there. People have great needs yet the facilities that are available to SA docs and surgeons are not safe enough to carry out the ops needed. One oldie has severe cancer to his face and has lost most of his nose and cheek but treatment is delayed or not sufficient to help. We stand by helpless and can only pray for these folk.
Goods for Barbara Burrell Home for the Blind and some outsiders near to her, were left with a “feisty Tannie Koekie” to deliver. After a long and hard day we retired to our nest at Coronation.
Monday 12th had us up early again and we set off for Gweru where we first stopped at Boggies, then Huisvergesig, dropped the outsiders at Anna Scheepers home and as we still had lots of daylight rushes off to MUUS Cottages in Shurugwi. At all these homes we found everyone in good spirit, cheerful, joking and very helpful as we dished out the hampers and gifts as we had been doing throughout the trip thus far. In a situation where one sits on a stone wall waiting for a truck to bring in “good will and food” my heart cries out to those dear, dear people whose smiles and upright stance defy the reality of their circumstances. If we could but just take a page out of their diary, put it to use in our lives and show some gratitude to God, maybe we will see our lot in a different way and be more appreciative of what we have. We then drove to Zvishavane and met with John and Lynne D’Ewes. As usual we were hi-jacked and treated to lovely goodies and offloaded in the rain. After saying our good byes , we headed for Masvingo where we arrived at Pioneer Cottages at 20.45. Here Corrie Odendaal came to our rescue putting us up for the night.
Tuesday 13th saw us up early again and after picking up the empty boxes from Lulu McKenzie at Masvingo Chicks we left for the border at about 10.00am. We planned for a reasonable crossing but, alas, the truck started playing up and we came to a halt. After ascertaining that the fuel filters could be dirty we headed for Buffalo Range where we called on a friend to assist us. Lynda Style got her mechanic to intervene. He tried to wash out the filters, and we caught up on old times and were given a bed for the night.
Wednesday 14th had us up early and with the old wagon was still somewhat temperamental and with fits and starts we left and made it to Bubye Garage where we drew some fuel and headed for the border arriving at 15.00, a long trek to say the least. We sat at the border for more than NINE hours only getting across after midnight!!!
This task is not for sissies!!
We stopped and slept at Henry and Elizabeth Cameron’s again and are so grateful to them for getting up and seeing to us. They are wonderful folk indeed.
We hobbled back to Malelane and after some further miss-adventures finally arrived home at 05.00 on
A very challenging trip, actually more of a journey into the unknown. We had many challenges but the rewards of the journey pays more than any amount of money can buy. What we did notice was the impact our Stephanie made. We saw and heard that many of the old dears yearned for the chance to hug and be embraced by a “child”. The joy on some of those faces when they had embraced and nattered for a while made me quite jealous. Having witnessed this I think we need to consider on one trip to load up a bunch of teens to do the deliveries, after all many of them actually do some packing of hampers.
Well that’s it for now folks,
Daniel Koekemoer and family.
At this point we want to thank the folk at Pinetown NG Church, Port Shepstone NG Church, Hope Methodist Church Duiwelskloof and all the other folk who sponsored and packed the gifts that we were able to spread around the country. As I always put it, “You, our donors, supporters etc are their lifeline and we are only the co ordinators and transporters. Without you, we are a “crippled mutt.” So all thanks and blessings to you who enable us to perform this wonderful worthy task
We wish all our Donors, Supporters, Prayer partners, Friends of the ZPSF and everyone who is involved in any way with helping the oldies there, the very best for 2011 and trust that your Christmas was the best ever.
We look toward to a new year together in which we can continue to help the less fortunate there, the ones who openly weep as they received the hampers and gifts, not only this special Christmas trip, but every time we are able to bless them with what you make it possible for us to take them.
Penned with gratitude and love and all God’s richest blessings,
Pastor Attie Botha
On behalf of all at The Zimbabwe Pensioners Support Fund.