15 November 2007

Back from Zimbabwe

The smiling customs official leant through the open car window. "Do you have enough food for yourselves? There's no food over there where you're going!" he warned, nodding towards Zimbabwe on the other side of the Limpopo River.

I was taken aback by this, probably the most bizzare greeting I'd ever had from a border official and I've had a few). The irony of it: just a few years ago we used to drive from Mozambique into Zimbabwe to stock up on food supplies - and now we were driving up from South Africa with a vehicle heavily laden with food parcels for our Zimbabwean YWAM friends.

Zimbabwe, once the bread-basket of southern Africa, is now bankrupt with hyper-inflation and empty stores. "There's been no coke, beer, eggs, fuel, salt... nothing for weeks" Butch (yes, that was honestly his name), our host, later complained. A friend overheard an elderly Zimbabwean lady reminiscing about the horrors of the 1970s independence war: "The war was terrible days, but better than these days. Then we knew who our enemy was, but now we don't."

The small YWAM team struggles to maintain a foot-hold in the country. Doing any type of ministry is hard when the daily fight for survival is such a challenge. Regular food deliveries over the last couple of years have been vital. When we met with Simon, the national leader, he joked that "We Zimbabweans like our 3 meals a day, but now if someone has one meal in a day they think it's been a good day. It's not necessarily that people don't have money - it's just that there is simply nothing in the shops". Simon reminded us of the period during the 1980s when Zimbabwean YWAMers sent food parcels to struggling colleagues in Mozambique; now it is their turn to receive aid. "Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord" Kobus quoted from Proverbs, “And he always repays", he added with a smile.

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