Trip Report February 2023 – Johan Schultz
On Wednesday 1 February 2023 I met with Daniel (Martinus) Koekemoer at the Malelane Warehouse for the first trip to Zimbabwe for 2023. Daniel was in the Bakkie (LDV), and I was taking the truck on the round trip. First thing we had to check was whether the roads to Zimbabwe were accessible from Malelane as there had been protest actions in the Bushbuck Ridge area where the communities close the main roads. And as true as Bob, the roads were obstructed with advice to make use of alternative routes. We packed the last of our katunda and set off in two different directions, Daniel was headed to the Kruger National Park and my detour was via Lydenburg, Graskop, Tzaneen and Musina. This was the first time I had taken this route and all I knew before hand was that I was going to travel a lot of mountain pass roads. Truth be told, I am not sure I will ever go via Bushbuck Ridge again, the route was quiet, a lot less traffic, roads in better condition and the scenery immaculate. Before long I was in Tzaneen and on the normal route towards Musina but, as Daniel was about an hour behind me, we decided to spend the night in Louis Trichardt.
Thursday 2 February, we left before six and met up at Aunty Hester Joubert’s in Musina for a quick coffee before heading to the border. The crossing went fine, the process being the same as always, just under one roof. There was very little traffic, I did however at one stage end in a wrong lane and was shown onto the scanner and my empty truck was placed onto the scanner and checked. After all this I was on the way to Bulawayo. I arrived late afternoon, met up with Daniel and we spent the night in Coronation Cottage having a braai and getting some rest. We had the normal crowd coming by to say hello, Brian and Rachel, always good to have a crowd.
Friday 3 February, we were on the go from early morning, Daniel loaded the bakkie and was off with Angela to start the Bulawayo deliveries, I spent the day at the warehouse packing boxes and double checking the loading sequence and comparing box labels with name lists for the truck deliveries as we had added another 20 plus boxes. Shannon Wheeler came by and took a bunch of the deliveries for people staying in his area. Daniel and Angela made very good progress and by late afternoon we headed to Willem and Caroline for dinner and a cold one. We chanced our luck and had a shower while there, the power in the Cottage was on a single phase which meant the lights were on a dim and the geezer was not working, it was the first time for me to see this, in Zimbabwe the power is set to a single phase to save electricity. A new experience indeed. Thanks for the spoil guys.
Saturday 4 February, Daniel continued with deliveries, and it seemed he would be done sooner than expected. I had the helpers in and loaded the truck to leave the next morning for the round trip delivering throughout the rest of the country. Daniel and Angela were up and down reloading and delivering like demons. During the truck loading I had people popping in and picking up boxes from the warehouse. Willem picked me up and we went on a visit to Hannes Jovner and P.J. Bakkes. PJ is doing better and is having treatment for sores on his fingers that was brought on by poor circulation from having diabetes. Hannes and Liz are doing well, and we had a long chat with a cup of coffee and some homemade rusks. We had a chance to chat about the Christmas deliveries and some reactions from the recipients about the box contents. The favourite item mentioned were the Solar Kits and the gift packs. By the time the day was done, I was sure Daniel would be leaving the next morning, being a volunteer driver, he has a full-time job and needed to get back home. A big thank to him for all the help. We were then off to Willem and Caroline again for a braai. It is always lekker to eat out, saves on the bachelors having to cook and clean thanks guys for always looking after us while on the road.
Sunday morning 5 February, we were off to the warehouse, Daniel loaded the boxes for the deliveries towards the border and was on his way to SA before 08:00. I double checked the truck, paperwork and itinerary, and left for Gweru where I was spending the night at Boggies. The trip there was great, I took a slow drive, the road is in great condition, and I got to enjoy the scenery, passing landmarks like Cement, Shangani, Daisyfield, Somabula and Dabuka before I arrived early afternoon in Gweru. Bruce Chilcott and I took a walk around the property and spoke to some of the residents who we found. Everyone was in good spirits and were looking forward to receiving the box of goodies the next morning. Later Bruce, Jill and I made a fire to have a braai. I slipped off to see go Aunty Kate Munger where I found Babs Coetzee and we had a whale of a time just talking, obviously too long and lost track of time as Bruce came to fetch me stating that the fire was dying, and Jill had left. We then went back to his place and cooked some meat, had a good meal and I was off to bed. We have been putting this braai off for the last 7 years, there was always something that popped up to prevent the braai from taking place.
Monday morning 6 February, Bruce got the staff together and we offloaded the truck. Most residents came out and I received big thank yous and got some photo’s before leaving for Huis Vergesig just up the road in Gweru. At Huis, Rici Lawry was already waiting, we offloaded quickly as she had to be at a seminar and was already late. I then left for Herbert Lee cottages, in Redcliff where I was met with big cheers and happy faces, Carol Ferreira was on hand to take care of the admin while the rest of the guys helped to offload. With a quick hello and well wishes I was off to Kwekwe. After a very short drive I was there. Roy and Margot had all lined up and were ready to offload the boxes and reload the empties. I had some cold drink under the tree and was on the road to Kadoma. I noticed that the roads were in a good condition and there have been good rains with the scenery lush and green. In Kadoma, Westview has Dell Parkin, who struggles to see, organizing the staff and residents to assist and arrange the load in order to be checked and distributed. I had a cup of coffee with her at her cottage, with a quick visit by Danie Hartman and Uncle Chris Ferreira (Aunty Hester from Musina’s brother) here the general feeling is that the people are happy and in good spirits. I met Uncle Chris’s neighbour, Tracy, an American missionary who gave me a King James Bible, thank for the precious gift. They have their usual darts competition every Friday night. I will have to join in this sometime soon as it sounds like a lot of fun. I felt like Father Christmas, and I am convinced a that I only see smiley faces because of the box deliveries.
Well, off to the next stop and this was the first time I delivered in Chegutu. I met up with Brad Phybus who is the chairman for Greenway Trust where the oldies stay. I was very surprised to meet Brad as he was a lot younger than I expected. Nick, one of the guys at the warehouse escorted me to the home. On arrival I was not sure if the truck would enter the property, but all there assured me it was fine. With some careful manoeuvring I managed to drive around the admin building and offload the boxes. Due to the wet weather, I churned up some of the garden with the truck to make a tight turn between some trees, but I was assured it was not a problem, sorry guys. I met Kendal Barnett, the administrator at Greenway and it was good to have met her in person. She is another young person looking after our oldies, such a pleasure to meet her, I am sure we will talk a lot in the future.
From here I had to get to Chinhoyi before dark, where I was spending the night with Dominee Johan Haasbroek. I arrived just before dark and was met by the good Dominee and went to his house for the evening. We talked well into the night with a lesson in the history of the Bible, after asking about the King James version. It was a very interesting lesson. I also learnt that the oldies there are in a rut and have basically accepted that their fate as is what it is and, as there seems to be no prospect of their life drastically improving, they are getting on with it with what they have. There is a sadness that is hard to explain, but they are still hopeful, but for what I am not sure. I got a good night’s sleep and was well rested by the next morning.
Tuesday morning 7 February, Johan had arranged for all the gardeners to be stopped at the security entrance to assist in the offloading of the boxes. Before 8:00 we were ready for the recipients to collect. They arrived in bits and pieces at first and then there was a sudden rush and all arrived, some taking a few boxes and some there in their motorised wheel chairs for their own box. It was a mixture of chats and jokes, and I was so confused with who was who, I just took a group photo of everyone. Thanks to all that arrived and the lovely letters. By 08:30 I was on the road to Harare, here it was a drop and go as John and Leonie Herbst were at work, but there were guys to assist in the offloading and James the gardener was as solid as always in getting the job done quickly.
From here I popped in to see Vic for a fuel top up, he is one of our regular fuel donors. Without these guys the wheels could come off when there are fuel shortages. Vic, you are always there, thanks a lot for that. From Harare I went to Marondera and saw Peter Banks, who picked up the deliveries for that area. Thanks for the “padkos” (homemade Brownies from Phillis) and Granadillas, they were gorgeous. I then went to Rusape at Resthaven, my next pitstop. I was met with all the residents and had coffee and some laughs and chats. Tony, Roy, Sheila and I had lunch/supper together before I was off to bed. Thanks Sheila for the pasta, which was delicious. People here are a happy bunch and raved over the solar kits, small torches and chocolates they received for Christmas. Their favourites in the boxes include the tinned goods, milk powder and instant porridge. It seems the box contents are spot on for the needs of the folks. I got some cupcakes for “padkos” from Lena Sosa that came in handy as the next day was going to be a long drive to Masvingo. These guys had a chalet for me with a warm shower and a comfortable bed for the night. I had a good wash and were into bed before 8.
Wednesday 8 February, I was off to Mutare and wanted to catch the guys by 08:00 to off load. So, I was on the road just after 06:00 and reached Mutare early. Des and Sally Becker were there to receive me, while Des was checking the off-loading and marking the boxes I was treated to coffee and biscuits. Thanks for the “brekkie”. Des’s guys had all the boxes off loaded and the empties loaded, and I was on the way to Birchenough Bridge before getting to Masvingo. The scenery was spectacular and there had been quite a lot of rain, so all the river was running strongly and the grass was green. As I got closer to the bridge one could pick out the resident farms with goats because the foliage got sparser. The Baobab trees also get bigger, with hand woven grass baskets, hats and carpets hanging on homemade stick display trellises underneath them. Here and there people also sell honey next to the road and the communities are visibly poorer. At the bridge I had to go over a weight bridge as the load limit for the trucks is now 25 tons. I was basically empty by this time and crossed a Save river in full flow, what a sight as it was full from bank to bank. On the other side of the river is an open market with shops, I am sure you can buy anything here, it is something to see, but Zim style. There are solar items, fruit, building materials, livestock, all on display and it all looks very confusing, but all in one area. From here the scenery changes, separated by a bridge, the Baobab’s were smaller, there was lush undergrowth and no vendors next to the road. Then it started to rain, and I drove in the rain all the way to Masvingo where I was spending the night at Pioneer lodge. As I got out the truck I was greeted by Johnny Nel, with a “Hell you guys know exactly when to come.” I assumed he was low on some supplies. Cindy Valentine, the Administrator came shortly after and with the help of the trainee nursing staff we off loaded and dispersed the goodie boxes to the residents.
Cindy called the outsiders and we met some of them in the rain when they came to pick up their boxes. We loaded the empty boxes and I was then treated to a cooked meal in the mess hall. While waiting for the outsiders to collect, I stood in the entrance hall with Cindy, the head matron and Aunty Rose in her wheelchair. We had a couple of laughs and I met John who came to pick up a few boxes to deliver and the Smith family who picked up their boxes. I saw some ladies doing cross knitting in the lounge and they were teaching the nursing staff to cross knit and showed me some of the work thy had done, very beautiful knit work. I was then off to my palace they prepared for me, and I met Mrs. Yvonne Goddard, a resident who paints. She does very interesting artwork, I am sure I will be buying something from her on the next visit. She is also assisting in redecorating the inside of the chalets. The one I stayed over in had been retiled and had a very comfortable double bed. I had a difficult night though, fighting mozzies the whole night, it is February and mozzie month after all. With no power the ceiling fan was off, so it was a rough night…
Early Thursday morning 9 February, I set off for Zvishavane, the road from Masvingo to Beitbridge is completed and is a proper highway with two lanes going in both directions, I almost cried when I had to leave this road as I turned off toward Mashava. This road is bumpy, and it was raining most of the way. In Zvishivane I met with Mike Timvios who assists in delivering the four boxes for our recipients in this area. It was nice to see him again, his mother is a recipient and still runs her general dealer shop in town at the age of 83. Mom is in good health and works every day. I then left for Shurugwi on top of the mountain where I delivered to Muus lodge. This mountain pass has deteriorated since my last visit, shaking the truck and bouncing around. While going up the hill, I was passed by busses and trucks as if they were on anormal road with no concern in the world. I was amazed to see this. At Muus, I was met by Ann Morten, Martha Daily, Colin Bell and Kathleen Raja. They helped off load and we got the empties loaded. I went and said hello to Granny Shugura Karim, the oldest resident, she was all laughs and smiles, what a nice lady. Then I left to get to Bullies before dark. I got to Bulawayo just after two the afternoon and had time to wrap up the last of the admin and by nightfall I was ready to head home. I spent the night in the truck at the warehouse to leave early the next morning as the drive home is about 14 hours without the time spent at the border.
I left Bulawayo at 06:00 on Friday, 10 February, 2023. The first trip for this year was complete. The border crossing was the normal rigmarole, and I was back in SA just after 13:00. I had to go through the weighbridge and after an hour at there I was back on the road. With the heavy rains we had in the lowveld and surroundings, a lot of the road had washed away and on some of the mountain passes there was landslides making the road home an interesting drive. I had to detour via Lydenburg which added another two hours to the drive. With rain, darkness and treacherous road conditions on the passes I got home just after 00:00 on Saturday morning, safe and sound. Another successful run completed.
A BIG Thank you to all our donors, sponsors and people that help to make this happen time after time. Special thanks to the guys that put us up and feed us on this journey, Willem and Caroline, Gweru (Bruce and Aunty Babs), Chinhoyi (Dominee Johan), Resthaven (Stu and Roy), Pioneer Lodge (Cindy). Guys in the office back in SA, Linda and Michelle. The support team in Bullies (Angela and crew). The fuel sponsors, Vic in Harare, Keenan in Hectorspruit and Terry in Bullies. There are many more to mention, but thanks for all you do that gives me the opportunity and privilege to do what we say we do.
Head office South Africa contact details:
Linda Schultz – email@example.com – (C) 079 6082676 (T) 013 7900934
Johan Schultz – firstname.lastname@example.org – 082 4979328
Section 21 Co Reg. 2007/034036/08; NPO Number 096733; Section 18A PBO No 930031642