Kieron is one of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers. He’s currently working as a chaplain at St. Mary’s Catholic Academy in Blackpool and is visiting CAFOD partners in Zimbabwe.
As the days continue to fly by in Zimbabwe and time is quickly slipping away, it’s time to share from my perspective what I have experienced so far. After spending nearly two weeks here in the landlocked country of Zimbabwe, there have been many moving encounters meeting with partners of CAFOD and communities.
After spending a few days in the capital Harare, getting to know our surroundings and being greeted by the CAFOD staff, we began our journey to the north west of Zimbabwe, to an area named Binga. After a long journey, in the heat of a cloudless sky, we arrived safe and sound.
Over the course of the next week, we met many inspiring communities, as we learnt about their culture (predominantly the Tonga culture) and how they go about their day to day lives. We visited many projects along the long dirt roads of Binga, where many crossing cows, goats and baboons kindly caused us moments of panic… Oh, and driving through a river – that was certainly a highlight!
One particular project has truly inspired me to continue supporting the great work of CAFOD and its partners. The community of Lubu, a rural village approximately 70km from Binga town, had greatly suffered accessing water to provide for their families. The women of the community used to walk down a sharp, steep and rocky hill of around 600m to collect water for their daily needs. By no means is this an easy task (as I found out by trying it myself). But once the water was collected the women would then face the difficult task of carrying a 20 litre bucket of water upon their heads back up the hillside. This demanding task was done three times a day, possibly even more if water was lost on the climb back up. Not only was this a dangerous task, but one sometimes done barefoot, whilst carrying a baby on their back with two five litre buckets on either side. It is not surprising that many injuries occurred doing this.
Determined to stop this, the community in Lubu set about creating a change, and through CAFOD’s partner Caritas Hwange, an innovative method using solar power to channel the water from the bottom to the top was designed and put in place.
The impact this water project has had on the community was incredible to witness. One of the women told me that although the water scheme has massively improved their lives, it is the children that will benefit the most as they now have time to be children, instead of helping to collect water. If this wasn’t inspiring enough, I actually had an attempt at experiencing carrying a 20 litre bucket of water on my head – it was a great test of my strength and willpower. For the community it is not stopping here though – the project has benefited them in so many ways, they are now thinking hard about the next improvement they will make to their community.
As this journey with CAFOD is well underway, I am sure we will face some challenges along the way but there is so much hope in the projects I have witnessed that I can’t wait to see more of them in the coming days. As I travel on to visit a new CAFOD partner, I will never forget the incredible work that is underway in Binga. And at the end of a hard working week it was amazing to have the chance to take in the Victoria Falls, which truly is a wonder of our world. So for now that is all I have to say – I could write for days about this journey so far but it’s far too hot and sweat is seeping from my pores and work has to be done. Thank you for your continued support, until I write again, so long.