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St Peter Chanel

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Notes from Zimbabwe

image: CAFOD

image: CAFOD

The mountains of rubbish are growing. Pazarangu Street which runs past Stoddart Hall, a national monument, is at one point half covered with stinking refuse making it difficult for cars and people to pass; now the other lane is beginning to be covered as well. Our young people were organized into a cleaning brigade and began, dressed in new T-shirts and equipped with new shovels, to move the stinking mass, for some days with the help of City Council trucks. Then an aid agency activated adults. They too were given uniforms and tackled the dirt enthusiastically. At the end of it they enjoyed a nice meal of sadza and beef.

The trouble is, you need trucks to remove the garbage from Mbare. Otherwise you merely move it from one place to another, but don’t get rid of it. And more importantly still, people need to do this on their own and make it their own personal concern to keep their environment clean, even if no NGO provides nice shirts and shovels, sadza and beef.

Our archbishop warned in a letter to his flock to be prepared for another drought and hunger. There is no drought, though, in the Zambezi valley. An unemployed member of our parish ( and who is not unemployed?) went to buy dried fish at Cabora Bassa for sale in Mbare. He got very little. There is no sun to dry the fish. It rains incessantly, the roads are water-logged, the buses can’t pass. It took him two weeks to come back, instead of three days.

Everybody tries to buy and sell something. What else can the jobless do? But the competition is getting tough and tougher. Too many go to South Africa to buy electronics or to Botswana for food stuffs and clothing. Who is really producing something and creating real wealth?

She has one child of her own and four left to her by her late sister. Her husband has deserted her. They live on the banks of the Mukuvisi River under some black plastic sheets. Some of the children are sickly and need medication, some need clothing, all need food. We gave her some mealie meal and beans and second-hand baby clothing. Now our volunteers have to go and make a proper assessment of her situation. One of many such cases in their notebook.