Takura Gwatinyanya works for CAFOD partner Caritas Harare in Zimbabwe. He recently met CAFOD supporters in England and Wales to talk about how Caritas Harare is using renewable energy to help to tackle the effects of climate change in the southern African country.
Pope Francis warns in Laudato Si’ that our interference with nature is particularly affecting areas in which the poorest people live.
This is all too evident for the communities that Takura and Caritas Harare serve in Zimbabwe. As we have caused the climate to warm, drought has dried up people’s water supplies, destroyed their crops and livelihoods, and increased the spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and diarrhoea.
Takura recently visited parishes around England and Wales to talk about how the support of Catholics in this country is enabling people in Zimbabwe to overcome the challenges thrown at them by our exploitation of nature.
In July, Takura Gwatinyanya, from CAFOD partner Caritas Harare, will be travelling across England and Wales to share his passion for tackling poverty and to show how your support is making a difference in Zimbabwe.
Meet Takura and discover more about CAFOD’s climate and energy campaign at a series of special events, starting in London on Wednesday 6 July.
We caught up with Takura to ask his about his family, his work and what keeps him motivated.
Tell us a little bit about your family.
I am married to Rutendo Avriel, and we have one five-year-old son.
You’re an expert in water and sanitation. What makes you passionate about this area?
My experience in sanitation and humanitarian work has shown me that access to water and sanitation is a fundamental human right. It bring human dignity, with immediate and evidenced results. The need for decent water and sanitation cuts across all ages and all backgrounds, it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor.
Pumps run on solar power are helping people in the communities where I work to access clean water and are reducing the time it takes people to collect water.
Susan works in our education team. She recently visited Zimbabwe with young Step into the Gap volunteers from England and Wales. They met members of staff from Mavambo, one of CAFOD’s partners in Zimbabwe, who work extensively with local volunteers.
The singing reverberated through the hall, starting quietly, only one man, but swelling as the sixty or so people in the hall joined in. As I picked up the words, my voice joined too: “Here I am, I’m missing my partner. Here we are, your best friends! Here we are, here we are, here we are, your best friends. Here we are, here we are, here we are, face to face!”
Catherine Gorman from our Theology Programme reflects on the Doors of Mercy, where they can be seen in our world and how we can open them to others.
A couple of weeks’ ago I walked through the Door of Mercy at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark with CAFOD colleagues from all around the country. We were praying for refugees and migrants, forced to leave their homes in search of a better life. And as we heard the stories of our brothers and sisters from around the world, intertwined with Scripture, Catholic Social Teaching and prayers, we were moved – imagining ourselves in their shoes, and recognising the need for God’s mercy in our world.
As Pope Francis has said: “By crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.” (Misericordiae Vultus #14)
As we passed through the door, I had a real sense that I and my colleagues were truly (re)committing ourselves to share God’s mercy with others, a sense that has stayed with me since.
Our series of Friday blogs focus on examples of living out works of mercy during Lent. In this blog, Susan Kambalu, who accompanied four Step into the Gap volunteers to visit CAFOD partners in Zimbabwe last month, talks about hope for the future in the HIV and AIDS projects she visited.
One of my favourite Bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11: ‘“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to give you hope and a future.”’ When I’ve faced challenges in my own life, this verse has given me hope and encouraged me to keep going. But there has been one area of life where it has been hard to find hope at times. Members of my extended family have lived with the impact of HIV and AIDS, and the story I have seen over the past 15 years or so has not been a positive one. So it was with some trepidation that I prepared to visit Zimbabwe, to see first-hand the work of CAFOD partners Mavambo, Mashambanzou and St Albert’s Mission Hospital in supporting people living with HIV.
These three partners, situated in very different contexts, work together on the programme, Putting Children First. This is a complex programme, covering areas such as child protection, birth certificates, income generating projects, school fees, and health care. The staff members I met were all passionate about their work, and were full of compassion and tenderness.
Jason Sheehan talks about how he has been inspired by the people volunteering with CAFOD partners who he met in Zimbabwe:
I sometimes get asked why it is that I’m volunteering a year of my life and at first I struggled to answer that question. But with the privilege I have had to meet volunteers across the world here in Zimbabwe it has shown me that to volunteer is a true act of love. The one thing that has been a constant throughout all the partners we have met with is that the incredible work going on each day couldn’t be done without people in the communities volunteering their time, knowledge and abilities.
Leila Bousbaa was part of the the Step into the Gap programme in 2014/15 and travelled to Zimbabwe to meet CAFOD partners as part of the programme. This Lent Leila is remembering the water projects she visited.
I’ve been thinking a lot about water these past few days since hearing about CAFOD’s Lent water campaign. This time last year I witnessed first-hand the struggles that come with lack of water.
As part of the Step into the Gap programme I visited CAFOD partner projects in Zimbabwe. One visit that impacted me greatly was a water project in Lubu. Here I met a community 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. Before the water project was implemented, the women in the community would have to make this journey carrying 20 litres of water on their head, often with another five litres of water in each hand, and sometimes barefoot with a baby on their back. And all of this had to be done three times a day!
CAFOD gap year volunteer Danielle Storey has written about how climate change is impacting upon water supplies in Zimbabwe. Our 2016 Lent Appeal is focused on providing people with access to water.
The climate is changing. We can all easily fall into the habit of ignoring it, thinking it doesn’t affect me or it’s not that bad, my actions are only small so I can’t do anything about it. That’s what I thought too before I began my gap year with CAFOD. However countries all over the world, especially in recent years, are beginning to feel the effects of extreme weather events, including the UK with the recent devastating floods. We need to acknowledge that climate change is real and affecting people now.
Zimbabwe, along with other sub-Saharan African countries, is experiencing a severe drought. A priest we met while visiting CAFOD partner Mashambanzou told us that this is by far the worst he’s ever seen in the 30 years he’s been here. It’s been evident since we arrived here in Zimbabwe when we saw how dry and small the maize and other crops were for this time of year – there hadn’t been any rain for six weeks and it’s supposed to be the rainy season. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – The effects of climate change on water”
Katy Lowrey, one of our gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe, has written about how CAFOD is helping children living with disabilities:
Zimbabwe is a beautiful country with beautiful people. Everyone we have met over the past two weeks have been amazing, friendly and kind to those around them. We met these people at the previous partners we visited, Mavambo and Mashambanzou, and now also at St Albert’s, where we have been staying during the week.
The Chitemamuswe Rehabilitation Centre for children
On the second day of our stay with St Albert’s we visited the Chitemamuswe Rehabilitation Centre. This centre is for children, from babies to 19-year-olds, and is a place for those with disabilities to come and feel accepted and part of a community as some of their own communities may have rejected them due to their disability. The centre was set up by Mathew Chitemamuswe in 2013 to help people living with disabilities and with HIV and AIDS.
Danielle Storey is one of CAFOD’s gap year volunteers. Here she writes about how the work of our partners in Zimbabwe is one way of showing the mercy Pope Francis has called for in this holy year:
We’ve learnt so much after just two weeks spent in Zimbabwe that no book could have ever taught us. The people we’ve met so far are just amazing. With the help of CAFOD partners and their inspirational volunteers we have witnessed the true loving mercy of God in action; as the local priest said in his homily this week, the work of God is alive and active.
As Pope Francis has announced this year as the Year of Mercy, we are encouraged as a worldwide family to have compassion and share our love unconditionally with our sisters and brothers, no matter how hard that may be: “let the Church always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven”. The volunteers here put their all into helping children who have been orphaned and people who are living with disabilities, sickness, or are disadvantaged, all the while struggling themselves to earn money and feed their own families. They do it because they have love to share, they open their hearts to others because there are no labels in the eyes of God – we are all equal and everyone deserves that love. As one of the Shamware Dzedu, the friends of Mavambo, said, “Volunteers want to give everything; song, heart, power.” Continue reading “Step into the Gap Zimbabwe – Love is an Open Door of Mercy”