Friday 18 June 2021
We departed Malelane as soon as the Level 4 Covid curfew lifted at 04:00. I was accompanied by Caroline Nel, (Hannes’s daughter and my sister-in-law) in the bakkie. Caroline was returning home to Bulawayo, where she and hubby Willem are our regular hosts.
We had our COVID 19 tests done the previous day at Lancet in Malelane. I got my result on the same day at 20:00 but Caroline had not received her result by the time we left. She was in a panic on the way, I pull her leg by telling her I would leave her in Musina and she could come on the truck on Sunday when Dave was due to pass through. On the way we received her test result via SMS, and subsequently printed it in our clearing agent’s office at the border. We had a seamless passing, thanks to clearing agents Sediba on the SA side of the border and Robert in Zimbabwe. The only obstacle we had on out trip up, was Caroline’s sensitive constitution, the problem alleviated by a dose of Imodium. We arrived in Bullies at about 18:00 to a warm meal and a happy Nel household, having mommy back in the mix.
First news we receive when landing is that there will be water shedding ….no water in Bulawayo from 21 – 25 June. As I unpack, I realise the house is also in a power load shedding state. This luckily only lasted an hour…. these are ongoing and blackouts occur often without warning. We have pasta that Willem made and enjoy the hearty meal. Angela reports from the warehouse that they will be working into night to ensure the boxes are packed and ready for the truck when Dave arrives.
Saturday 19 June 2021
I have very slow start, trying to re-energize after the trip to Bulawayo. I help Willem get electrical fence going, as crime is rising in Bullies. Residents talk on social media groups about armed robberies and burglaries increasing in the area. Beefing up security where we sleep seems to be a good idea and better safe than sorry as the saying goes.
I was invited to a 21st birthday gathering. We have a humble gathering and are served with home-made curry and rice, undecorated chocolate cake and some brownies. It was awesome seeing a big family together in a celebration stripped of the earthly extravagance we are so used to seeing at such a “big” milestone in a young person’s life. A few words from the elders in the group, a heartfelt prayer, and a good old family bantering session. Happy days. One guest mentions how blessed the day was, he was a neighbour, and has 2 sons and all he wishes was for a text message or a call to say hi, it was Father’s Day after all, so sad.
I have an unwritten rule not to drive in Zimbabwe after dark, and excuse myself when the sun starts to set and arrive back at Willem’s before dark. I brought some sea fish from Mozambique and guess what? We have fish and chips dinner. I’m off to bath and bed as the truck is due to arrive tomorrow to be loaded for the round trip.
Sunday 20 June 2021
Off to an early start. I arrive at the warehouse and start with the checklists to ensure the boxes are packed and PPE needs as requested for homes are ready with extra winter goodies like Vicks, cough syrup, soup, samp & beans etc. all packed and marked. Dave reports he is at the border with the truck before 07:00…good going. He arrives at the warehouse in Bullies at 15:00 and we call it a day with Dave due to leave the next morning after loading up. We pack up and are off to Willem and Caroline for supper and early off to bed. Tomorrow will be busy one.
Monday 21 June 2021
We were up and out the house by 07:00, and off to warehouse to pack the truck. When we arrive, the team is already there. We load up, run a final check of the lists and see Dave and the truck off at about 09:00. Bullies next and we load up the Kitchen deliveries for Ralstein, Queen Mary and Edith Duly.
Aged care homes throughout Zimbabwe are finding it increasingly difficult to cover salaries for staff. The minimum wage was increased without notice and backdated while there is no choice but to pay. With the forced exchange rate that is determined weekly on an auction system in Harare, it is becoming harder to afford staff salaries. There is some support and local assistance in the form of goods and labour to keep buildings and basic infrastructure going. Not a lot of the residents are seen, due to the covid 19 numbers rising. All the homes are incredibly grateful, although the lock down and fear of COVID 19 is taking a toll on the oldies mentally as no visitors are permitted. Family is seen at a distance, with no contact is allowed. After a long and mentally draining day I crawl into bed for some sleep.
Tuesday 22 June 2021
I start early and drive to get the deliveries done asap as there are rumours of stricter Covid measures to be imposed. I start my deliveries for outsiders around Hillside area and surrounds. A lot of the oldies have started keeping chickens and vegie gardens in the backyard to get by. Again, crime is on the agenda in the Bulawayo area and everyone is on alert and aware of the rise. There was even a break-in at a church where food was thrown on the floor to use the bags and containers to transport stolen goods in. Obviously, a crime driven not by hunger, but greed. In some instances, firearms have been used. The oldies are very aware of this as it is not something this community is used to.
Lots of well wishes for Hannes as I go and advice on how to feel better and build up strength. There is likewise no shortage on advice and home remedies on how to fight the COVID 19; a world of experience and knowledge to tap from, but who has the right ideas? I call it a day at about 17:30 and head home to get some rest.
Wednesday 23 June 2021
I start at around 07:00 again and aim to do the deliveries to homes. As I visit Coronation Cottages, Barbara Burrell, Masonic Lodge and Garden Park I note most people are isolating themselves as best they can from the insidious reach of the pandemic. Most have had their first vaccination and some have already had their second jab. AAAND of course we find the odd sceptic that refuses any of the untested poison. Everyone to their own, but at least there is a keen awareness, and everyone is cautious and following the basic rules on wearing masks, sanitizing and isolating where possible. I have a cuppa here and a kind word there, noting the morale is slowly on a downward spiral, with this isolation and lack of social mingling taking its toll mentally. The passing of old friends and not being able to gather and pay last respects eats at the soul. Not being social is something this generation was not built for.
Thursday 24 June 2021
I’m up early and off to the warehouse. Time to wrap up all loose ends and drop the last boxes in the airport road area. I do some special visits and have tea here and there. I visit Dr Legg at Queen Mary to pick up on some of how the good doctor sees the pandemic affecting people as he does a lot of home visits – yes! a doctor doing home visits. Only in Zimbabwe. People are afraid and unsure of what to believe and where this pandemic will still take us. They are desperate for hope and trust in the Almighty for a better future but are financially crippled at every turn. We can only hope and believe tomorrow will be better.
And then lockdown changes are announced by government. Movement restrictions being the most significant, as businesses must close at 15:00 and there is no movement from dusk to dawn, and this is already adhered to in Harare only hours after it was announced. Dave arrives back in Bullies at 16:30. We do his COVID test and prepare for his departure the next morning. After a hearty dinner and warm bath, were off to bed.
Friday 25 June 2021
We’re up early and off to Mater Dei for Dave’s COVID 19 results. After receiving the negative result, Dave is on the road and rolling by 09:00. We pack up the last odds at the warehouse, pack up the empty boxes from the trip and finalise last of stock counts. The team is taken home and warehouse locked.
Saturday 26 June 2021
Having a break day and doing my own COVID 19 tests before traveling back tomorrow. I’ll be joined by Willem as he has some paperwork to update in SA. Driver’s licence expiring… we have a braai and relax with some down time.
Sunday 27 June 2021
Up and on the road by 06:00. Loaded with the deliveries along the road to Beitbridge. We drop off at Gwanda, West Nic and last stop just before Tod’s Hotel, then off to the border and home. The border was quiet, and we were through in an hour, half that time spent on the bridge swaying as the heavy vehicles pass, a very uneasy feeling.
The COVID 19 certificates are properly perused and checked before one is allowed to cross the bridge between the two countries. Then we have a very good trip to Malelane and we were home by 22.00.
Words of Thanks to:
Linda at Malelane HQ for always being available to help from afar and have all the documents in order before we leave on the trips.
Hannes, your patience, and guidance is inspirational and greatly appreciated as we tackle all these new challenges.
Leonie, John and Michelle for taking Harare under your wing and helping the ZPSF in our mission.
Johan Haasbroek (Kadoma), Des and Sally Bekker (Mutare), Bogies Trust (Bruce and Aunty Ivy in Gweru), Willem and Caroline Nel (Candy, Juan and Anthony in Byo), John and Leonie Herbst (Harare) for feeding us and giving us a place to rest during the trip.
Colbro and Concrete Structures for the fuel donations in Zim.
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.
The oldies in Zimbabwe are a very resilient lot. I’ve seen how they build their own chicken coops, plant vegie gardens and live off the land in their own back yards. Some hoping to have a loves one call and say hallo, just the need for some family contact.
The gratitude for the morsels we deliver is unbelievable as some burst into tears and more than often one hears: ” how do you get the timing just right, I had my last this morning, and here you are”
We as the ZPSF have to thank our donors making this possible as we as facilitators are blessed being able to do what we do. Thank you.
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