Let me start by saying that I have decided to make this report a bit different from any of the previous reports, although it will still contain some of those special moments where I actually had the PRIVILEDGE of meeting some of the “oldies” who in some small way actually contributed to making Zimbabwe the wonderful country that it was.
I had been asking for the chance to take part in one of the trips for quite some time and when Johan actually phoned me to ask if I could accompany him on the October trip I was quite excited. Then the interrogation started with Johan asking my age and when I told him I could immediately pick up his concern. It took me quite a bit of persuading and assuring him that I was up to the task and he finally relented and agreed to let me be his support. Now that we have returned I can understand his apprehension as the trip was extremely physical and very tiring.
Johan and Linda picked me up at our house in Nelspruit on the 29th September so that I could spend the night at their house in order that we could leave for Musina as early as possible. We were on the road at about 8.30 after packing a few items into the truck and bakkie. The arrangement was that I would drive the bakkie following Johan in the big truck. We made our way to Musina via Bushbuckridge (not the greatest route but the shortest).
Saturday & Sunday
We arrived in Musina at about 4.00pm having had no issues on the road. I stayed with an old friend for the night. We met at 7.00am the next morning and made our way to the border. We arrived at the SA side at 7.30am and were both thru by 8.15am, no issues. We were met by Robert, our friendly clearing agent who assisted Johan with the clearing of the truck in Zim and then he came to help me with clearing both the bakkie and myself into Zim. I was thru in about 45min but Johan took a while longer as he had to go thru the “commercial” section. We met up at the Engen garage and bade farewell to Robert and were on our way to Bulawayo.
The road to Bulawayo is, to put it mildly, atrocious especially the deviations, but at least there are repairs taking place. After a few stops we finally arrived at the warehouse in Bulawayo. Having grown up in Bulawayo I must say that it brought tears to my eyes to see the state of the once thriving industrial sites with row upon row of run-down derelict factories/buildings. Anyway enough of that. We were met at the warehouse by the wonderful team of Angela, Liz, Nathan and staff who had packed, labelled and correctly stacked all the boxes ready for loading the next day. We left the truck at the warehouse, and I spent the night with my sister and Johan with his sister-in-law. That was Sunday night.
Johan picked me up early Monday morning and we went to the warehouse only to find that there was a large delivery of foodstuffs from Johannesburg, so we supervised the off-loading and then the loading of the pre-packed boxes onto the ZPSF truck. We were assisted by the warehouse team as well as 4 really keen casual workers. The truck was loaded and ready to go at about 15.30 and it was decided that we would leave for Gweru early the next morning. Spent another night with my sister.
Johan picked me up at 7.30 Tuesday morning and we went straight to the warehouse, checked the load, packed the 2 fridges and were on the road out of Bulawayo by 9.30am.
Our first stop, after the numerous roadblocks was at Boggies Trust Gweru where we were met by Bruce and some staff and their boxes were off loaded much to the delight of those residents who were there to welcome us. The delight on the faces was something to behold.
We spent about an hour chatting with the folks and then left for Huisvergesig but on negotiating one of the numerous round abouts the truck hit a pothole and one of the springs on the rear axle broke and Johan slowly drove to a place where he could pull over and park the truck. What happened next makes one believe in miracles. Johan phoned the lady that manages Huisvergesig, Rikkie Laudry to explain our situation and she came to investigate. She immediately contacted her husband, BJ who just happens to have a workshop specialising in Land Rovers and large trucks. BJ brought some staff and they made a temporary repair which allowed the truck to be driven to his workshop.
The staff then proceeded to remove the broken spring whilst BJ started phoning all his contacts in Harare trying to locate a spare. Luckily he located a spare and it was decided that he and Johan would drive to Harare the next morning and collect the part, come straight back so that his staff could put in the new part early Thursday morning. In the meantime, Johan and I had booked into the most delightful B&B for Tuesday and Wednesday. All the boxes for Huisvergesig were off loaded and Rikkie undertook to deliver these to the home as well as the “outsiders”.
We finally left for Redcliff at about 10.30am, truck properly repaired. We made our way to Redcliff and the Hurbert Lee Cottages where we were met by Carol Ferreira and some staff. The boxes were offloaded and by some of the faces, greatly appreciated. We did not stay for long as we had decided that we needed to make up for some of the time lost in Gweru so made our way KweKwe and Lynbrook Homes. Here we were met by Deidre Adlam and staff plus some of the residents. Boxes were offloaded for the home as well as the outsiders. A number of the residents came to personally thank us and it was quite evident that the boxes were really appreciated. We spent quite some time chatting to the folks and eventually left for Kadoma.
We arrived at Westview Homes and were met by Del Parkin and some of the residents. Boxes were offloaded for the home as well as Westview Outsiders. Boxes for the outsiders were to be collected by the designated recipients. Once again the joy on the faces of the folks was humbling to say the least.
Once again we were on our way, this time to Greenways Trust in Chegutu where we were met by Kendal Burnett and a few of the residents. Boxes for the Trust as well as the outsiders were offloaded and greatly appreciated by the looks on some of the faces. We spent a short time chatting to the folks but due to the need to make up some time we had to say goodbye and make our way to Chinhoyi.
We arrived in Chinhoyi quite late in the afternoon and were met by the most cheerful man, The Rev. Johan Haasbroek, as resident of Sunningdale Cottages. Due to the lateness of our arrival it was decided that we would offload the truck the following morning. We were treated to a braai and spent the night at the Reverand’s house, thankful for a hot shower and early bed.
Up early Friday morning to assist with offloading boxes for the cottages, self catering flats and outsiders and Mazowe Valley Trust Bindura. We were ably assisted by some staff and Heather Nel helped checking all the correct boxes were offloaded.
Next we were on our way to Harare to make a large drop for Kariba, Harare Outsiders, Chivhu Pensioners and the CFU. A total of 145 boxes all delivered to the house of John Herbst from where they are all collected. Luckily some of John’s staff were there to assist. Whilst there I had a visit from a old colleague who I had not seen for more than 50 years -great to catch up briefly. This drop off took most of the morning and we only got on the road again at about 12.30. On our way to Marendela.
Marendela was a quick drop as only 2 boxes for outsiders and then back on the road to Rusape. At Resthaven Rusape we were met by quite a few of the residents who were most appreciative of the ”goodies”. Roy Hodgson helped with organising staff and Tony Anderson-Morshead assisted with checking the boxes. Roy invited us to his normal Friday night snooker where we met a few of the local farmers and played some terrible snooker. We spent the night in Roy’s cottage and left early Saturday morning for Mutare.
Mutare has 136 boxes to be delivered and luckily ZPSF has a good friend in Des Bekker who allows us to off load into his warehouse and then either he makes the deliveries or arranges for collections where possible. Mutare consists of EHT Park Cottages, Nyanga Outsiders, S.O.A.P. Mutare, Murambie Strickland Cottages & Kitchens.
After a nice cup of tea back on the road Masvingo, via Birchenough Bridge, which I hadn’t seen for more than 60 years, to Pioneer Cottages, Care Centre, Outsiders and Emslie Close. We arrived quite late in the afternoon and being a Saturday there were only a few helpers. We were met by 2 of the most wonderful people in Connie the nurse and Cindy the home administrator. We were treated to a late lunch and after socialising with some of the residents of the care centre retired to our respective cottages for a hot shower as we were both suffering the consequences of 40 degrees and no aircon in the truck. An early evening and an early start Sunday morning.
Next stop was Zvishavane for the local pensioners. We were met on the road by Mike Timveos who undertakes the deliveries of the boxes on our behalf. Another unsung hero.
Next in line was the Muus Lodge at Shurugwi where we were met by a smiling Martha Daily. She informed us that most of the folks were at Church so Johan and I offloaded the boxes. This home is in desperate need of maintenance as it is really looking old and unkempt BUT those folks that we did interreact with were most cheerful and certainly most grateful for their goodies.
Here I must say that the road between Zvishavane and Shurugwi was possibly the worst we drove on during the whole trip. We left Shurugwe and headed for Gweru to drop off a few boxes with BJ for his staff as a form of payment for not only his outstanding effort but also his staff.
The trip from Gweru to Bulawayo was uneventful and we arrived at the warehouse mid Sunday afternoon. We just left the truck there and I was dropped off at my sister’s house and Johan stayed with Linda’s sister and her husband. I was left alone on Monday to “recover” whilst Johan attended to some admin and supervised the off loading of all the empty boxes we had collected on the way.
We left Bulawayo Tuesday morning and made our way to Louis Trichard/Makhado where we spent the night at a great B&B. Left after breakfast Wednesday morning and arrived in Malalane about 3.30 in the afternoon.
We received numerous thank you notes/letters and I will,ask that Linda goes thru them and shares those that she feels best convey the thanks of these old folks who without ZPSF would probably not survive.
I would like to take this opportunity to state that I really had my eyes opened with regards to the overall logistics and the planning that goes into ensuring that the whole operation goes as smoothly as possible. If you will allow me, I would like to briefly explain the operation as I see it, remembering that the organisation consists of Linda, Johan and Michelle and between them they organise the 6 trips per year. In brief,
Linda is the buyer/negotiator for all the goodies that go into the boxes, ably assisted by Johan and Michelle.
All the stock is delivered to the warehouse in Malelane and from there it is taken to a warehouse in Johannesburg by truck normally driven by Johan. From the warehouse in Jhb. It is taken to the warehouse in Bulawayo via customs at Beit Bridge by a selected transport company. Once at the warehouse the stock is checked, received and stored according to the nature of the items. The staff in Bulawayo have also checked all the returned boxes, repaired those that need repairing and stuck on new labels where necessary. Once they get the list of items to be included in the boxes they start packing the 776 individual boxes and Bulk for the kitchens and making them ready for the next delivery run. They stack the packed boxes such that they can be loaded onto the truck in reverse delivery order. The empty truck arrives from Malelane and the boxes are loaded and the circle begins again. This may sound quite uncomplicated but let me assure you that there is a lot of planning and physical effort that goes into a successful trip and I would like to personally thank all those involved especially those who have not had the absolute privilege of seeing the smiling faces of those old folks who rely on these boxes.
We travelled about 3500km over some of the worst roads.
776 apple boxes and kitchens were delivered, 1050 individuals assisted.
If one does the sums you will see that each trip equates to almost R1m and therefore every donation, no matter how small is gratefully received.
There are a lot of folks on the waiting list to receive boxes but due to the fact that the truck can only carry about 550 boxes, due to weight restrictions they cannot be accommodated at this time.
I have also experienced some of the hardships that the drivers have to endure such as no aircon, carrying hundreds of heavy boxes both into and out of the truck so please spare a thought for them.
TO THE TEAM MY GRATEFUL THANKS AND I PRAY THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO CARRY ON WITH THIS WONDERFUL TRADITION FOR MANY YEARS TO COME.
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