Monday, January 11, 2010

Letter for the kids

Hi, I found this letter in some papers in the cupboard at the flat that was written by a previous missionary grandma to her grandchildren in 2004. I thought it was a good description of life here in Zimbabwe so I am passing it along.

Dear Grandchildren,
Come with me on an imaginary trip. Pretend you were born in Africa to wonderful black parents. But first, make a list of all the blessings you can think of because you were born in the great free land of America.

May 2004 - Zimbabwe, Africa

Many of you would be orphans. HIV/AIDS is taking a devastating toll on the people of Africa. Many fathers die young from many illnesses because of the weak immune system caused by AIDS they contracted because of their unrighteous life style. By the time he is dying of AIDS he has infected his wife, and if she is expecting a child, the baby is born with HIV/AIDS. Africa has many children with AIDS, most of them orphans. When a husband/father dies, his family can come in and take the home and everything the family owns (that the father provided). This is because of the Tribal tradition of Labola, the buying of a wife which the husband thinks he owns because he bought her. Many women are treated as chattel.

Many of you in the rural area live in a Roundavel, a round home made of stick walls or home-made bricks with a thatched roof and dirt floor, which your mother has made hard and shiny by soaking cow dung in water to the consistency of thick cream and spread it all over the floor which, when dry, is very hard with an earthy smell and can be swept with a broom made of the branches and leaves of bushes. You have no electricity. Usually there are three buildings grouped together. One for sleeping, one for cooking (or cooking is just done outside on a wood campfire) and one for a living room plus there is a small outhouse.

Some of you may live in a home a little better than a Roundavel. If there is electricity to the house, you still don't have use of it because your parents can't afford to pay the electric bill. With over 70% (now about 80 - 85%) unemployment your parents don't have a job! You have no TV, no computer, no phone and no hot water. You may not even have water in the house and you have to go to the 'borehole" (well) to get all the water you use each day. If you live in one of the villages, you may not even have a borehole, so you use surface water. In the rainy season, this becomes contaminated, and for some reason you have never been taught to boil this water before using it so you contract cholera, which can take your life. Your mother washes all your clothes in a tub or bucket. You use a bucket to wash yourselves and you are always very clean! Your entire family may live in one room of the house, with other families living in the other rooms of the same house. We have seen as many as 7 people all living in one 8 x 10 room. You sleep on the floor and may not even have a blanket and in the winter months you are always cold.

In the rainy season, the mosquitoes are bad, and in some areas carry malaria, which can take your life. The rainy season is a favorite time of the year because of all the bugs that arrive - it is now feast time! YES, you eat bugs. The rains come in the summer months of November through January, so Christmas is in the summer.

You have no toys, except the ones you make yourself. A favorite toy is a ball made of a plastic bag stuffed with paper or plastic, then wrapped with string to form a round circle. Another toy is made from wire and odds and ends to make a car with wheels that turn.

You don't have an automobile so you walk everywhere you go. Some people here in Harare walk three hours to get to the chapel for church every Sunday, many of them bare footed. The people in Zimbabwe are very religious and love the Gospel of Jesus Christ and are very happy to belong to the true church.

You love to sing and have beautiful voices. Many of you are very artistic and carve wonderful items out of wood or stone.

Many of you can no longer go to school because the government has raised school fees so high that you have to drop out. If you are able to go to school, you have to wear school uniforms. Everyone in your school wears exactly the same clothes as everyone else. The clothes you wear at home are very ragged but most are always washed and very clean.

Your favorite food is sadza, made from ground maize (corn) and cooked very thick. This you would eat three times a day if you had enough but usually you only have enough for one meal a day so you are always hungry. You eat your sadza with your fingers, forming a scoop shape that you can dip into a sauce that your mother has made out of any vegetables you are able to grow. Some people in the villages own cattle, so you sometimes have meat with your sadza.

All people in Zimbabwe are not poor. We see many Africans well dressed, driving expensive cars. We think that the people are divided into two classes, the very rich and the very poor. Even with all the poverty here the people are very happy. Most of the poor are kind to each other and try to help each other through all the hard times they are experiencing.

We love our mission and have learned to love so many of the beautiful people here. We will never be the same! We know that as Americans we are very spoiled!! We have much too much when so many in the world have next to nothing.

Now, please go back to the list you made (I hope you made one) and see how much you can add to it!!

Love, Grandma

That was written in 2004 but it is the same today in 2010.

1 comment:

  1. That is so neat that you found that letter. How sad though that things haven't changed at all in 6 years. I would like to think though that with all that you are doing, that to some families and individuals you are helping them....thus changing lives for the better for generations to come! : D