Today we took a trip to the Mtshabezi mission station that was hard on our energy but even more exhausting for our emotions, I think. Today was one of those days that I think should be mandatory for North American Christians. The people we met outside Bulawayo trying to run a school and a hospital with next to nothing reveal just how absurd we are when we are mad our wi-fi is running slow. A lot of us don’t get it. Being poor is tough.
The Ekuphileni Bible School wants to train leaders for BIC churches in the rural areas of Matabeleland. It could house 60 students, but only 22 are enrolled, mainly because it costs $900 a year to attend and few rural people or churches have anywhere near that kind of money. Above is part of the school where they are tilling for the next season’s crop. We offered tips from yesterday’s lessons on conservation farming!
At the Mtshabezi Hospital the morale seemed to match the deteriorating buildings. Above we are lined up getting a tour from one of the spotlessly uniformed nurses (Even the male nurses are called”sisters,” if you know why comment. I don’t know yet). This is a 120-bed hospital, but few stay overnight, since they can’t afford to. The main business, which I think justifies the mission, is the 22 babies a month that are born there and the 1800 people who are in HIV AIDS treatment. MCC was about to ship a bunch of kits for people to use.
There are layers of issues with these missionary-founded now locally-run enterprises. I would not pretend to be very knowledgeable. But I was sad today. I suspect most of you reading this only theoretically know what you have in comparison to places like the rural areas of Zimbabwe. Just imagine this one fact. Since Robert Mugabe became the strongman, reportedly HALF the population has left Zimbabwe. Once productive farmland is fallow. A doctor is hard to hold at the hospital we visited because work in neighboring countries is so much better. Healthcare is hard to find even if you could afford it, education is similar. Being poor is tough.
I thank God for the good people who give their hearts to meaningful work in trying situations! I am glad the MCC and the BICC in Zimbabwe collaborate so well. I look forward to doing that better myself.
The other Africa posts:
Circle of Hope travels to southern Africa.
First thoughts from Zimbabwe
Being poor is tough
Going around doing good
Coming up against the powers
The food chain
The work of the Lord
Showing God’s love in practical ways
Will the northern hemisphere ever grow peace clubs?
Will we concede Southern Africa to Islam?
4 thoughts on “Being poor is tough”
Reading along. Thanks for taking the time to document and share stories. Praying back home, and appreciating all that we have.
Reading along too! Thanks for sharing in real time. Feels important for us for you 4 to be there.
We visited those “mission stations” back in 1980 and that was soon after the war for independence. So some things were just getting rolling again, some buildings needed repair from war damage or pilferage, but people were feeling optimistic. Robert Mugabe had not had the chance to fully rampage and brazenly steal from the country’s coffers and from foreign aid. Zimbabwe had more things in the stores than Zambia did (now it’s just the opposite) and the Zim dollar was worth something. Now it is worthless and not used at all. I couldn’t begin to analyze all that has happened, but I do know for sure that one questionably reelected president who ends up being a dictator and oppressing the people can surely rape a country.
About the difficulty of finding Zimbabwean doctors to work and remain at hospitals like Mshabezi Hospital…and this won’t be politically correct to say…but for years, missionary doctors from North America and Europe served in rural hospitals in Africa, at great financial sacrifice (compared to what they could earn in their home country) but few Zimbabwe doctors are willing to serve their own people at a financial sacrifice now.
Thanks Rod for Keeping us informed. We look forward to your safe return and time to discuss in person. Our prayers are with you and the people of Zimbabwe.