Like all of you we had much different plans for this year than what came to fruition. In March, we were a week away from sending two people to Zimbabwe for the first time as an organization. The intent of the trip was to meet with our partners, document our projects, and to launch our educational sponsorship program. All of this, like many of your plans, are on hold.
The people we work alongside in Zimbabwe live in extreme poverty. Tin shacks, no reliable water source, health issues, food insecurity, threats to safety … Many people in these communities survive off of “day jobs” or the good will of neighbors/family. In desperate cases, local organizations can sometimes provide assistance. So “lock-down” for these folks means no day jobs… I began to receive these messages:
Elyse, I would say this is the worst it has been in Zimbabwe. Even worse than 2008. People are going 3 days without food. We just learned of a child collapsing while playing from hunger.
Elyse, it has gotten even worse in Zimbabwe than before. There are reports of those we serve now going 5 days without food. Some are so weak they can hardly stand.
Elyse, I couldn’t sleep last night. There are 6 week old twin boys who’s Mum just died in the hospital. The father is unemployed and there is no one to provide them formula. Can you help?
Elyse...there is a 2 year old that died of starvation. The siblings are not well. We will give them the eggs your organization provides and add them to the group of egg beneficiaries in hopes they will survive, is this ok?
Elyse, there is a 6 month old boy that stopped growing. The mother herself is hungry and thirsty and cannot produce enough milk for the baby. There is no one to purchase formula.
And the stories continue …
In Ndbele, one of the main languages around the Bulawayo area, there are three clicks in the language, Q, C, and X. For the letter Q, you put your tongue at the back of the roof of your mouth and make a noise like a cork popping out of a bottle. Kinda fun, huh? There is a word in Ndebele, “sizaonQoba” which means “we will overcome.” It became one of my most favorite words in the language because it spoke so true of those I met.
Sizaonqoba. It is not a “resiliency,” as that implies that trauma doesn’t have a deep lasting impact on an individual. To overcome means, with the help of my God and my neighbor, I will hope and stand firm. Yes, it is true that those living in these circumstances have little choice but to face the hardships that come their way, but what I am talking about is an attitude or an outlook of hope and strength. It is beautiful.
Thanks to all of you and your faithfulness, I was able to reply to each of those messages during this season, with a big yes! Because of your generosity, babies are literally alive. Grace and peace to each of you. Thank you for your support and your trust in the work we are doing in Zimbabwe.
"Elyse! Can you see how much the twins have grown? Thank you so much for the support. The family is very grateful."