by Johan and Linda Schultz
We always say hope for the best, but prepare for the worst… some things cannot be prepared for, you have to wing it, this was one of THOSE.
Our previous 3 weeks were beyond hectic, we finally received our new updated Ease of Movement letter from the Zimbabwe Department of Trade & Commerce. With this valuable piece of paperwork in our hands we were up, ready and rearing to go. Then we received news that our clearing agent the ever-helpful Robert (Krassel Marketing) on the Zimbabwe side had Covid-19 and was out of action. We managed to sort out this hiccup and Johan went for his Covid Test on Tuesday the 10th of August to cross the border on Wednesday in order to get to Bullies and make sure everything was in order for the truck. However, Tuesday evening we received news from Dave that he was having back issues and while he was insisting on wanting to drive the truck for this trip we just could not take the risk that he could cause some serious damage. This meant doing a couple of quick changes including cancelling Johan going up first thing Wednesday, he would now be leaving Friday morning to fall in with the trucks schedule. Thursday it was once again off to Nelspruit to do his Covid-19 test for the border.
At 1am Friday morning I was awoken with an incredulous growl of “Linda, I am positive”, well that time of the morning I was wondering what he was positive about, hopefully that this was going to be an awesome trip. Then it clicked, he had tested positive for the dreaded Covid. Well hit us flat with a baseball bat, in our house this is a crisis due to all my health issues. Johan was promptly packed up and sent off to the warehouse to stay in quarantine while I sanitised our house.
Johan survived, he showed no symptoms and was being carefully monitored. Fortunately, the rest of us at the house also showed no symptoms, but after days in careful isolation we were all losing our minds just a little bit 😊.
Now in full crises mode we desperately needed to come up with a plan. Johan managed to contact Hannes Jovner who agreed to assist us with himself as a driver and using his truck for a fee. So our August trip for 2021 finally started on the Monday the 16th with Hannes Jovner being the driver for the round trip. A BIG THANK YOU HANNES FOR BEING ABLE TO ASSIST US AT SUCH SHORT NOTICE.
From what I gather and having had many messages of Thanks the trip round Zimbabwe was once again a HUGE success. These boxes were packed to the brim with additional tinned food, Cereal, Soup and Nespray Milk Powder.
By Wednesday the 18th I was losing my mind with Johan only being about 1.2km from the house and me not being allowed to see him. I organised PCR Covid test and off he went, as by this time he still had no symptoms. Off he went to Lancet and then it was just a hurry up and wait. Finally, Thursday just before lunch we received the results. And we were ecstatic to see it was a negative result.
With still so much to do in Bulawayo and surrounds with regards to all their deliveries a quick decision was made that Johan and I would head up to Zimbabwe first thing Saturday in order to cross the border on Sunday.
Plans in motion it was time to move. Friday due to tradition was chaos, we had to head off to Nelspruit for our Covid tests, bearing in mind this would be Johan’s 4th one in 2 weeks. Thankfully we both tested negative and the trip was a go!! We spent Friday night making sure we had all the correct documents and so on for the trip, packed our cases and loaded the bakkie. I had to chuckle a dash here with Johan’s grumbling at all the extra luggage. One I am a woman and two I come with a lot of medical extras. But we got everything in and were ready as can be.
Saturday dawned cold and windy as we hit the road. Luckily the trip up to Musina was an uneventful one. Being exhausted, we booked into the Baobab Cottages, made something hot to drink and had a quiet evening.
Sunday was a warm one. We did a bit of last-minute shopping in Musina, knowing full well that our next meal would only be once we arrived in Bulawayo. We arrived at the border after passing what seemed like a never-ending que of trucks, it was over 9km’s. The South African side I have never seen so quiet and I swear if you blinked
twice you could have missed us passing through, and that was where the joy ended. As we tried to make our way to the bridge there was just no movement.
Finally after almost and hour we were over the bridge and on the Zims side. Johan met Robert our clearing agent who was now recovering and this is where the fun really started. For the first time in ages there were ques and as luck would have it we ended up with an almost 3 hour delay.
Once through the border we still had various stops to make to pick up the previous trips empty boxes to take back to Bulawayo. As per usual we also had to face and conquer the lovely Beit Bridge Bulawayo stretch of road. The damage caused by the floods from the beginning of the year having still not being repaired in most places.
We reached Bulawayo just as the sun was setting and were grateful for the warm bed and meal that were waiting for us. It was catch up time with family and then off to bed.
Monday saw us up early and on the road. We picked up the Esigodini “Kinghaven MOTH” boxes from the warehouse and started driving back the way we had come the previous day. Of course with us now being 2 weeks behind schedule our “Golden Oldies” were over the moon to see us. One of the residents with tears in his eyes said that we will never be able to understand what these boxes mean to them and that without them they would not survive. I ask you, how does one answer that?
Parcels delivered we were on our way back to Bulawayo. At Coronation Cottages we were met by “Golden Oldies” who had already heard through the grape vine that we were around and they were there to collect their boxes. Here we must say a BIG THANK YOU to Caroline and Willem Nel who had stepped in to help start with the Bulawayo deliveries. They especially made sure that all the kitchens had received their stock.
Once we had arrived in Bulawayo and I had a chance to discover that I had left my deo at home in SA, I was off to TM to buy a replacement. I selected my usual non fancy Baby Powder Shower to Shower and headed off to the till. Handed it to the cashier who promptly gave me an incredibly large number in “bond” I then asked what was the USD rate and was told $5.91 (R90.00) for a can of spray I pay R23.99 for in SA? To say I almost had a stroke would be putting it mildly. Lets put this into perspective, you can buy a few loaves of bread or a can of spray, I know which way most of the population is going and smelling fresh is not as important as eating. There and then I decided that putting roll-on in our Golden Oldies parcels once a year is just not good enough. So I am on the hunt for a reasonable supplier of roll ons or sprays that can go in every box every trip. I know many will see this as a luxury but I am sorry Soap and Shampoo just don’t cut it.
Tuesday was back to delivering the Bulawayo outsider boxes. We have 91 Boxes that get delivered to people in their own homes. This covers all of Bulawayo and I am sure you can imagine the time this takes. Especially when everyone wants you to sit down have a cuppa and chat. We do try and rotate so that we get to spend time with different peeps on every trip.
We dropped off Jill Battiss Box and found her looking very chipper with a twinkle in her eye and a spring in her step. She is currently tutoring 3 high school students and also keeping them very busy with all her stories from years gone by. The students seemed to be absolutely loving it.
We had a few newbies on our list for this trip, The first lady thanked us profusely but said that she had since managed to rent her cottage out for USD and did not require a box. We are always grateful to people who are honest to us about their situation and in this way allow us to support someone who is in real need. Our next stop was at another new couple, the husband has been retired and the wife is currently doing part time teaching / day care work where she can. Here we were once again met with tears of thanks and unbelievable gratitude.
Wednesday, I had the pleasure / torture of having to watch a parent home school their children. Here during these times of Covid I am so glad my son is 22 and long finished with school. Times are seriously tough everywhere one looks and I really do feel for parents who have young children.
Thursday, amongst other deliveries we also had the pleasure of dropping off a 4-way walking stick for one of our oldies, who was over the moon at being given back some freedom to move on his own. It’s often the small things that bring the biggest smiles and we do this for those smiles.
Friday, was a tough day. Doing what we have been doing for so many years you always end up with old favourites. One these is Jeanette Harvey at Garden Park. She will be celebrating her 97th Birthday on the 24th September and we had an extra box of surprise goodies for her. On arrival we saw a note on her gate requesting no visitors as she had been very unwell and her family called. However, she seemed to have gained some of her fighting spirit and we were fortunate to be let in and spend some time with her after thoroughly sanitising ourselves. One thing I can tell you for sure is her mind is still as sharp as ever and she still has a vice grip on her, once she grabs your arm you can only move once she releases you. It was a teary visit as we are aware it could very well be our last to her. She was over the moon with the special treats we had brought up for her.
Saturday, after a couple of crazy days, it was time for us to prepare to head back home. We loaded and packed the bakkie, making sure the boxes were loaded for the “Golden Oldies” we still had to pass on our way out of Zims. Our last box we deliver is 80km from Beit Bridge. So when I post a lot of photos of roads, that’s because that’s mostly what we see. Especially now in times of Covid and stranger danger, although we are super careful one never knows. Saturday night we had a braai and the boys watched their rugby. With everything loaded it was time to chillax.
Sunday, we woke up to freezing weather, wind howling and drizzle. Now we come from Malelane in the Lowveld of SA and anything under 25 degrees is cold. We bundled up, said our Goodbyes and hit the road. At stages especially over Blue Hills we could barley see 100m in front of us, hence we had a very slow start to our trip home. While we were freezing with the heater on in the bakkie I had to feel sorry for the police officers who still had to man their road blocks with no source of shelter from the elements.
On our way out back to SA we had the opportunity to drop another box off for a first timer on the list. Both the husband and wife in this circumstance are well over 80 and receive no additional income. And this is where that Rhodie pride comes in, we phoned them when we were on our way only to be told that they were ok and were managing, Johan informed the lady that we had the parcel in our possession, and we were already on our way. We were thanked with a God Bless you. On arrival, we contacted the lady who came down to collect the parcel, Johan took her to the back of the bakkie and opened the box so that she could get a quick idea of what she was receiving. Thankfully I was inside the bakkie as she promptly burst into tears and could not get any words out. Once she was able to talk one of the things that struck me the most was when she said “one will be amazed at how frugal one can live when one has no funds”. These are hard working people who saved and planned for their Golden days and then lost everything not once but twice! It makes one feel so guilty and thankful for the small things in life.
I know we always talk of being moved to tears, whether from our side or our “Golden Oldies” but honestly this trip was really tough and took a serious emotional toll on Johan and myself.
We managed to do all of our last drops and much to our surprise the road has been patched in many places. It was clear sailing till about 60km before the border, then we hit the traditional potholes with full force. Now having done a bit of the “Touristy” thing and bought myself some flowerpots in combination with the potholes, well we ended up in slowing down to an almost crawl. But you will be as relieved as I was to hear that when we did finally arrive home no pots were broken.
We were met by Robert on our arrival at the border, with whose help we managed to get through the border both Zims and SA in record time for which we were eternally grateful as by this time we were finished. Even the bridge was a breeze with no blockages or delays. As we went through the SA border and drove onto Musina we passed the unbelievable que which was now almost all the way into Musina. Once in Musina we booked into Baobab Cottages once again for the night.
Monday morning after a good nights rest we were back on the road and heading for Malelane. Thankfully we had a fairly uneventful trip and were home by 3pm and spoilt with lots and lots a kisses from all our 4 legged babies. There really is no place like home.
We have 2 trips left for 2021, our Mid October one and then the BIG Christmas trip that happens end of November. Before we left to go up to Zimbabwe I had placed bulk orders to be collected / delivered once we were back.
Tuesday saw our day starting with a delivery of over 15 pallets of stock from Southern Trading. So here we go again, already preparing for our next trip.
The main message we received and were asked to pass on to all who have donated or assisted in one way or another was a Great Big Thank You, and to them, the pensioners, every time the trucks arrive and they see the food parcels marked with their names on it, that they have not been forgotten and that there are still people out there who care and think about them. Just seeing their names on the boxes and knowing that someone cares, helps them to fight their daily struggle for survival with a sense of pride.
It is difficult to put into words the appreciation shown by these old folk and can only be fully understood when one sees it for yourself. As said before, what a blessing and inspiration these old folk have been to us with memories that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.
PS: a special thanks from the ZPSF Team:
Hannes Botha, the Boss Get better.
Hannes Jovner for assisting in the deliveries, a rare gentleman.
Angela and her warehouse team in Bulawayo always a step ahead, well done.
John and Leonie Hebst in Harare for assisting in the Harare and surrounds deliveries.
Des and Sally Becker in Mutare, The Godfather of Mutare, still after all these years just as reliable as always.
Willem and Caroline Nel in Bulawayo, your generosity is always appreciated.
All the Care takers, Administrators, Chair Persons, Staff and Medical personnel taking care of our Golden Oldies, Thanks. You are special.
Most important the Donors. Without your donations and open hearts none of this would be possible. Thank you ALL for assisting us make this happen.
We pray our Lord’s Blessings for you all….
Johan & Linda Schultz
Head office South Africa contact details:
Linda Schultz – firstname.lastname@example.org – (C) 079 6082676 (T) 013 7900934
Johan Schultz – email@example.com – 082 4979328
Hannes Botha – firstname.lastname@example.org – 084 5893221
Section 21 Co Reg. 2007/034036/08; NPO Number 096733; Section 18A PBO No 930031642