Wednesday, February 11, 2009


When my wife’s family moved from UK to Canada, her uncle’s family moved to Rhodesia now called Zimbabwe. They had a good life in this colonial atmosphere and then things changed. Civil War. Independence. Nationals took over. The family members moved back to the UK, being able to take no more than $2000 out of the country.

Don’t go to Zimbabwe for a vacation. In fact travel there is discouraged. Zimbabwe is in trouble, a state of emergency more accurately. It is facing several crises at once. There is political unrest that is threatening the country’s stability. As the humanitarian crisis deepens, pressure grew for President Robert Mugabe to step down. From June to August last year, President Mugabe banned international charitable organizations from operating, depriving more than a million people of food and basic aid after the country had already suffered one of its worst harvests.

The economy has bottomed and inflation is reported at 230-million percent which puts the price of food out of reach for the underprivileged. Money is worthless. Unemployment is at 93 percent. Cholera, a waterborne disease has spread to all ten of Zimbabwe's provinces because of the collapse of health and sanitation systems. The cholera death toll has topped 1700 and 24,000 others have been sickened since August. The country’s Health Minister warned that the epidemic may grow worse as the rainy season develops. Hospitals are full, floors as well as beds. There is food shortage. According to the United Nations, 5.5 million Zimbabweans need food assistance. Two-thirds of Zimbabweans are living on one meal or less per day. With little relief in sight, the most vulnerable parts of the populace, namely women and children, have been crossing the border into South Africa in hopes of a better chance of survival. Unaccompanied children, as many as 1,000 per month are fleeing. Life expectancy at birth for males in Zimbabwe has dramatically declined since 1990 from 60 to 37, among the lowest in the world. Life expectancy for females is even lower at 34 years.

In view of all of this Mugabe has remained defiant and rejected U.S. President George Bush's demand that he quit and blamed his country's troubles on international sanctions. One wonders whether the Obama administration may have a different outcome when it speaks to this international crisis.

This is where faith mission and relief groups once again demonstrate their value. Aid is being provided by numerous ministry operations. Cholera medication, antibiotics and rehydration medication, water filters, millions of meals. But none of this happens without the financial gifts of ordinary people such as us in the Western world where downturn is being experienced but at a comparatively superficial level.

See this site for a list of groups working in Zimbabwe

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