Phil Hunter’s account of the Zimbabwe Mission team’s recent trip:
Upon our arrival in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, we were greeted with the headline that the price of bread went from $1 to $4 over a matter of weeks. Rapid inflation is gripping the country again, leading to dramatic price increases and a variety of shortages throughout the country.
Many gas stations sold no gas, since suppliers couldn’t price their costs with confidence. So driving out to the school were we worked was a concern. Basic food items (bread, water, etc.) were scarce for the same reasons. We didn’t know for sure if a restaurant would be open. And even when we found an open restaurant, some menu items were no longer available. When we did eat out and the bill was presented, the waiter in a hushed tone would offer that if we paid in US dollars, there would be a discount. One time that discount was 65%!
In spite of hardships the citizens of Zimbabwe were very friendly and welcomed us, representatives of LOPC, with open arms. Our hosts, the employees of Kapnek Trust, went out of their way to make sure we were safe and catered to our needs. We even attended a church service with some Kapnek Trust employees where this group of the LOPC “frozen chosen” learned to worship African style and Lauren thanked them for their inclusive love toward us.
On the first day they took us to the Children’s Rehabilitation Clinic for children with physical handicaps. There, we handed out the 70+ blankets made by members of the LOPC congregation. Upon receiving the blankets, the mothers broke into song in their native language, praising God and Jesus.
The next day we traveled 3 hours (the last 5 miles were on unpaved roads) to the school where Kapnek is building 2 new classrooms for the children in Early Childhood Development (ECD or Kindergarten). They are now teaching the kids under a thatched roof open air structure and use logs for benches. There so many ECD children at this school, that they have a second structure 3 miles away just for the ECD overflow. The 2 rooms under construction will consolidate all ECD children at one location.
With the poverty in this rural setting the school supplies donated by many LOPC members and Seedlings, were a huge hit with the children and especially the teachers. Our visit overlapped with the School District’s ECD Supervisor who helped distribute the supplies, and offered many suggestions on how these supplies could be utilized.
We labored in an effort to help construct one of the 2 new classrooms, occasionally baffling the school staff and visiting parents who wondered why these older people were working so hard when we should be relaxing, retired. And really baffling the men when our women shoveled gravel, pushed a loaded wheel barrow or moved bricks.
On another day we observed the ‘once a term’ health screening with which Kapnek Trust (KT) assists. Primarily KT transports the District Nurse to the site, as the government has no funds for transportation. Of course, that uses precious gas. Each child is examined for health issues including malnutrition.
Everyday we were at the school we helped with the porridge that the Kapnek Trust provides for the ECD children. They provide this at an approximate cost of $.03 per child. Currently, they provide this fortified porridge to over 18,000 children each day all over Zimbabwe. For many children this might be the only meal they will get that day. And due to the aforementioned inflation, costs are rising. Additionally, for the school we visited, the growth of ECD attendance has resulted in a strain on the porridge supply, somedays running out of porridge before all the children can be fed.
We came away with a new appreciation of the Kapnek Trust effort to help the children of Zimbabwe. We met many of the staff at the Children’s Rehab Clinic, the School District Administrator, the school principal and even parents, all of whom sang Kapnek Trust’s praise in helping them. In many cases it is Kapnek Trust who holds the rural schools together in these challenging times for Zimbabwe.
In spite of unimaginable hardships the people of Zimbabwe were warm, hopeful and grateful; at times bringing tears to many of our eyes. From the mother’s cradling severely disabled children at the rehab clinic who bust into song in gratitude for a blanket, to the smiles on the faces of the children getting the porridge, or the deep appreciation of the school staff as we labored to improve their facilities, our presence provided the message that they are not forgotten, they are in our prayers, we are one in a community even if LOPC is on the other side of the world.
Alive in Christ in the World!