The situation in Zimbabwe is bad. Morale is low and it is a very sad place to be living in at present. No one is happy, and the waiting for something to happen, for improvement in living is just taking forever and ever. For years we have been saying that it can’t last forever, but it certainly feels that is going to be so.
The Government say they will introduce the bond note at the end of October and if we don’t want to use it we must not accept it. We don’t know how this will work because if there is no other money then what will people do? Sometimes we think an item is short, but then it appears on the shelves again and those items are butter, diet drinks, items that we do not supply to our pensioners, so our people are yet to go without anything. Jam seems to be short, and tinned tomatoes, but because we try and stockpile our groceries, we have not yet had a problem.
Our supplier says that goods will not be as short as they were in the times when our shelves were absolutely empty. As with everything in Zimbabwe – we will have to wait and see. Our oldies seem so much older these days, they are slow and stooped, quite a few are in walkers and we think this is just due to the unhappiness that we live with. On the other hand, the help our pensioners receive is of great joy to them. This does not just involve the giving of groceries, but the support that each organisation can give, the network.
One of our ladies who has been on our lists for many, many years lived in Bulawayo at a youth hostel, but when her husband lost his job they moved to her son in Mashonaland. Her husband died just weeks after arriving there, and eventually her son asked her to leave. She managed to find friends in Bulawayo to house her and she once again received her SOAP parcel. These friends also asked her to leave, as she has no money to contribute to her upkeep, except for $10.00 which she receives from The Legion and $50.00 which her brother sends from Australia – he is also a pensioner. She went back to Harare to stay with her husband’s family, but they have now left Harare and could not take her with. She was beside herself with worry and fear at being totally homeless. She telephoned us and through Di Charsley and SOAP Harare she has been homed at a tented camp just outside of Harare. She has said that she ‘thinks she has died and gone to Heaven’. I have never known Rose to have her own home so this has been a huge change to her living circumstances and SOAP Harare agreed to continue to supply her with groceries. We are grateful to everyone who helps us – even though we know there is only so much one can do, and that we should not get too emotionally involved, this is almost impossible when someone is in dire need.
Donations are extremely hard to find. Our donations dwindle more and more each year and, of course, we have to have money to continue supplying these groceries. This poses a great worry to us as we know what effect there would be if we had to stop the distribution of groceries to our old people. Even delivering the parcels a little later than normal starts panic in our oldies. They are on the phone trying to confirm that the parcels will be coming that day. Last delivery we dropped the parcel for Jeanette, but forgot to leave the newspapers she had asked for, so after the next delivery we went back and she was already heating up her spaghetti for lunch. Our oldies are very, very grateful for the groceries they receive – one old lady tells us this is her only income!!
At present Zim Aid Fund is our greatest donor and if it were not for you and all your helpers we would surely not continue the distribution of groceries. We are in a good position with our supplier as we deposit $10 000.00 at a time with them and then we buy our groceries monthly, which they deliver and they also supply us with goods which are near to of just past expiry date. At the beginning of this month we were able to supply them with sparkling water and lemonade, which gives them a nice change and it is a bit of a luxury item. But having said that, we would still not be in a position to supply without Zim Aid Fund and we and our pensioners are forever grateful.
Many people ask where the money comes from, and we have to say that we receive very little from within the country and that Zim Aid Fund in Australia keeps us going – so thank you one million times and more – you do not know what it means to the pensioners in Bulawayo – you are saving their lives right now!! Thank you all for all your hard work. Best wishes Louise, the Soap team and all our Recipients.