Lizzie is working as a chaplain at Newman University and Leila is a volunteer at the Good Shepherd in Nelson, respectively. They are both visiting Zimbabwe as part of CAFOD‘s Step into the Gap programme.
We’ve spent the past week in the west of Zimbabwe, in a place called Binga. And what a week it’s been. We’ve visited so many great projects and met so many inspirational communities, it’s hard to know where to begin. So here are just a couple of highlights from our week.
For me, Binga has been an extremely memorable and moving experience. In Siamtelele village, Moyo Mthatshelwa, a 49-year-old farmer, warmly welcomed us with a traditional lunch of sadza, goat’s intestines, spinach, groundnut maize, sour milk and crumbled bread, all produced off their farm. I was touched by the generosity of his family. Moyo explained that “CAFOD’s scheme is very nice to us farmers. You’ve assisted us well. We thank you very much. It will improve ourselves and will pay for school for my thirteen children and help develop our future”.
A project that impacted me greatly was a water project in Lubu. Here I met the community at their homestead at the top of a rocky crevasse and together we ventured down the slippery slopes. Going down was hard enough, little did I know about what hiking back up would entail. I was oblivious to the reality of the hardship of carrying a 20 litre bucket of water on my head. Before the water project was implemented, the women in the community would have to carry 20 litres of water on their head, often with another five litres of water in each hand, sometimes barefoot with a baby on their back. And all of this had to be done three times a day!
The community told us stories of women breaking legs whilst fetching water, so being told it was my turn to put 20 litres of water on my head panicked me! Nevertheless I backed myself, put the water on my head and headed up the rocky slope. The moment the bucket touched my head I felt the weight of the 20 litres, I realised I wouldn’t be able to find words to describe my feelings. Balancing the water, managing in the heat, and making sure I didn’t fall over the rocks, are only a few of the things rushing through my mind while I walked. Words can only impact a person so far, but actually feeling another person’s struggle and pain is something that will always stay with me.
Now, through a CAFOD funded solar powered pump, water is piped to the top of the rocky slope, and the women no longer have to make this painful journey. The difference this has made to the community is huge. I can’t wait to visit more projects on the next part of our trip.