The Zimbabwe Pensioner Support Fund is kicking 2018 off with a bang!!!!


ZIMBABWE PENSIONER SUPPORT FUND TRIP REPORT

 

November / December 2017

 

DANIEL & ELZA KOEKEMOER

 

It’d been a while since I’d had company on a trip so it was super great that Elza, my dear & long suffering wife, joined me for this one. She has a huge love for Zimbabwe & a very special spot for the Grandies. She provides the warmth, love, comfort & tears that we Dudes hide behind the roar of the truck as we leave each home. I was well pleased to have her along. I have also christened her my “Goodwill Ambassador” for her smiling & waving at any, & every, passing human……

 

We left Malelane on 28 November 2017 hoping to catch the border before the Christmas rush. Hannes & Linda had done a fine job of preparing our small load and it was great to see all the special gifts donated & made up for the old folk. The Christmas run is always very special as it brings extra special joy to so many. The chocs, treats & goodies are, ordinarily, way out of reach for most of our recipients and make a very welcome addition to the mundane, necessary essentials that we provide in the boxes throughout the year.

 

A small hiccup with the trucks batteries delayed us a bit in Mbombela but we were on our way by about 10h00. The trip to Beitbridge was uneventful and we arrived in Musina in the late afternoon where we bedded down at a B & B in the town courtesy of an anonymous donor. We thank you sincerely Mr. Anonymous. A comfy bed & air conditioner are what Musina dreams are made of.

 

We approached the border on Wednesday morning, arriving on the Zimbabwe side at about 7h30 a.m. We’ve become well accustomed to the long waits at the border and know that our truck search at the Container Depot has become routine and mandatory. With prepared states of mind and patience we went through the process in 11 hours. Despite the unexplained delays it’s fair to say that there was quite a congenial & friendly feeling at the border this time. (Did I ever believe I could write anything at all good about the dreadful enematic hole that Beitbridge is?)

 

We left the Container Depot at about 7h00 and were immediately and pleasantly rewarded when there were no road blocks on leaving town towards Bulawayo. Could this be!?

 

The Border / Bulawayo road is treacherous at best and perilous at night but we made the decision to press on so that we could get a good start with re-packing the truck on Thursday morning. Despite several very kind offers of ccommodation in Bulawayo we were so tired and unpleasant by the time we arrived at about 11h00 p.m that we opted to bed down in the back of the truck parked at Coronation Cottages.

 

On Thursday morning we delivered our load & had the truck re-packed by the very able Angela White & her helpers. It’s been warming to see this remarkable woman evolving from a fund beneficiary to the most effective & efficient cog in the Bulawayo wheel. A million thanks Angela & team for your tremendous contributions that make my trips so much easier.

 

The ever-generous Shannon & Rachel Wheeler fed us a scrumptious Zim breakfast while we waited for the truck and we were away to Gweru by 10h30.

 

Boggies Trust in Gweru is one of our favourite stops in Zim and with the help of Bruce Chilcott, & the other residents, we seldom need to lift a finger. By the time we’d exchanged our greetings & pleasantries the truck was already offloaded. The chaps at this home are machines! The ever generous & creative Ms. Ivy Davies plied us with our usual padkos which we scoffed the minute we drove out. Thank you all at Boggies for your warmth, love & smiles. Love you guys!

 

We stopped off & delivered at Herbert Lee Home in Redcliff an hour later where we spent some time chatting to the folk there. Elza found a long lost distant relative which was the first of several to come. Big Families you see…..

 

Our delivery at Lynbrook in Kwe Kwe is another of our favourite Homes. They are always so grateful for our efforts and we’re always rewarded with even more padkos & a welcome juice.

 

At Westview Retirement in Kadoma, later on Thursday afternoon, we debated pressing on to Chinoi but exhaustion, the lure of a beer & the hospitality of Clive & Estelle O’Reily had us stop for the day. Clive’s recent hip replacement did nothing to spoil a perfect evening with them, Thanks millions again Clive & Estelle. You guys are legends.

 

We offloaded early on Friday morning at Westview & set off to Chinoi where the patient residents of Sunningdale trust & some farmers waited for us. Several folk waited in their aged bakkies & cars that they use to ferry our boxes around the area to the “outsiders: in the town. The generous spirit of Zimbabweans is always so evident at Sunningdale. There’s a special vibe that one feels here with mountains of love & gratitude.

 

It’s also here at Sunningdale that I have witnessed the ravages of stress & the pain of losing one’s everything. I have watched, with great sadness, one particular individual in this community deteriorate from immaculate in manner, appearance & poise, five years ago, to a disheveled, sad & tired human. That is the tragedy that is Zimbabwe. How dare they!?

 

We set off and arrived in Harare in the early afternoon. Our very dear & generous friend, Lynda (Pushkin) Style put us up at her Mums home. Very sadly, her mother, Jean had passed away two weeks earlier. We were extremely sad that we hadn’t gotten to see her for one last whiskey. This Lowveld legend was a huge fan of the Zim Pensioners Fund and her generosity will never be forgotten. Rest in Peace Dear Jean. Thanks for your love & kindness over the years.

Pushkin, again! treated us to a great dinner out & it was brilliant to catch up on everything Zimbabwean. Thanks millions again Pushkin. You’re much in our thoughts lately, with such great sadness around you, and we pray for a far better year for you & your family in 2018. XX

 

We could not do these trips without the huge generosity & caring from good people like Vic. Vic has, for the past two years, donated fuel to the fund. Vic, we cannot thank you enough for this great kindness. With every cent we save on your fuel another item can be bought for a needy Grandy. Our love & thanks to you for your great caring & support. You’re a fine human.

 

More great gratitude must go to the legendary Futters in Harare. Mike & Marion Futter have been a massive help to us. These kind folk have immersed themselves in the service of those less fortunate in and around Harare. They have made themselves, their property & their time available to us to distribute our boxes as far afield as Bindura, Mazoe & surrounds. Our deepest thanks, again, to them & their helpers. You’re the best Mike & Marion, Thank you!

 

At Resthaven in Rusape, where we arrived after lunch, most of the folk were attending a Christmas party in the town. We offloaded their boxes and spent some time with those that had stayed in. As usual, a spread of tea & homemade treats made our short visit as pleasant as always. This home has lost several of their residents in the past while and it was particularly sad not to hear the laughter & jokes of Tom Coffee in his great American twang. RIP Tom.

 

Our week had come to an end and the rigors of the truckers’ life had us ready for a little rest. We had booked ourselves into the rondavel on the rock at the ever beautiful “Hidden Rocks” outside Rusape and we spent a great night there soaking up the immense beauty of this area.

 

(A bit of a punt here) Visit this little place folk. (Google it!)It truly is the most peaceful and beautiful spot on the planet. A great recharge!

 

On Sunday we made our way slowly to Mutare knowing well that we could only offload on Monday morning before we headed for Chivu.

 

How too do we thank enough, the selfless beautiful humans, Des & Sally Becker in Mutare. They have devoted so much of their time, love & lives, over many years, to bringing great joy & comfort to so many retired folk throughout the Eastern Highlands. There is a special place in heaven for good people like these. God bless you guys!

 

Des insisted that he would distribute our load for us on Monday morning so that we could get on with our trip. He would deliver to Murambi, Park Cottages, Strickland Lodge & all the private boxes around town and as far as Chipinge & Nyanga. He and Sally would also accommodate us at their beautiful home. They had arranged for some of the cottage folk to come by for sundowners, to meet us and tell us of their lives. Thank you again the Beckers for reminding us what true & excellent Zimbabwean hospitality feels like.

 

We arrived in Chivu in time for tea with Piet & Frieda De Klerk. The boxes for Chivu are now down to 6 for the entire district. Piets son has also moved away to Harare now and the loneliness of these people is palpable. Elza and Piet had much to talk about as they had both grown up in the area and it took some horses to drag her away. A quick drive through the town of Chivu was a stark reminder of the tragedy of a sick economy. The churches, post office, hospital and other landmarks lie in abject neglect. Mr. Trump of the U.S. could probably best describe this hole.

 

In Masvingo, three hours later we were met by Johnny Nel & Dusty Evans who help us offload all the private boxes & those for Pioneer trust. For a small fuel donation Dusty would distribute the boxes around town.

It was in Masvingo that a pensioner said to me “Thank heavens you arrived with our grub. I ran out of everything last night” When I asked what he eaten then, his reply, with much laughter, was “A mashed potato and an egg”!

A mashed Potato & an egg guys! Because I was choked up I didn’t get to asking whether he’d, at least, had gravy with that. In our once prosperous land a fellow Zimbabwean is reduced to a mashed potato & an egg as his last meal, never knowing where breakfast will come from.

 

In Zvishavane, an hour or two later, Lynne D’ewes met us with her customary sandwiches & tea. Lynne & Husband John too have committed themselves to the service of the few old folk left in the town. They have, for some years, helped us with distributions throughout the area. Born & bred in the town Lynne has a million stories to tell and, for a change, our tears were funny tears rather than sad ones. Thanks for that Lynne. (I will warn of our arrival in February!)

 

By my estimation, the once beautiful and picturesque Shurugwe epitomizes the ruin of Zimbabwe. It’s a place of neglect & squalor that shows no order or law. This is possibly the only place in Zimbabwe where I feel uneasy & threatened. The once magnificent grand old buildings are now derelict and tired, spilling their dirty drunken contents out of pubs & clubs into the narrow streets in the late afternoon. The saddest of all the small Zim Towns, I’m sure?

 

The residents of Muus lodge in the town are always so happy to see us and it’s always a joy to spend some time with them. Thankfully the cottages are somewhat above the town and one prays that there is never a need for these folk to venture any closer to the cesspool.

 

We spend Monday night back in Gweru at Boggies trust where we were received again by Bruce & his team and the empty box returns were in the truck in a flash on Tuesday morning.

 

Knowing we had a way to go and a border to cross we were up and away early to Bulawayo to deliver all the empty boxes collected around the country. Hannes & Angela were there to meet us and Hannes then took us off to another one of our fuel donors in Bulawayo. To reiterate here….we cannot do these trips without this incredible generosity from these individual & companies. Their fuel is our lifeblood and we are tremendously grateful to you all. Thank you so much again!

 

Our border crossing back to S.A. in the late afternoon on Tuesday went without a hitch and we were through by the early evening. Like horses heading back to their stables, we were intent on getting as close to Malelane as possible for the last leg of our trip but the little Lalapansi hotel outside Louis Trichardt was as far as our tired numb butts could go.

 

On Wednesday morning we were on the home stretch and dropped the truck back in Malelane at about midday before making for our home in Durban, via Swaziland. Tired, but very well satisfied, we got back home sometime later…………… can’t really remember when?

 

In parting now I have this to say………..

 

I have a great & striking fear that the new regime with its promises; the temporary euphoria in and about Zimbabwe and the ecstatic demise of one Robert Mugarbage will lull us all into a false sense of comfort & complacency with particular reference to our dear special old folk stuck in that country. I must implore all our donors and all concerned Zimbabweans. This is not the end for these people. There is no pot of gold at the end of their rainbow. There may never be? There is, sadly, no respite in site for many, or most, of these pensioners, farmers and some ordinary folk. Most have nothing left to restart their lives with; even if Zimbabwe “comes right”.

 

Zimbabweans are not beggars by nature and would never ask for a bean but I will beg on their behalf……… Please do not forget them in the haze of this newfound hope and glory in that country. They are not ok and need you all now more than ever.

 

To all our donors, in cash & kind, throughout the world, we thank you deeply and sincerely for your love & generosity shown to these people. They thank you and are more grateful than you’ll ever know. It is their constant call and request; that we must thank you all enough.

 

We surely cannot bear to hear another Zimbabwean tell us that they ate a potato and an egg while they hoped for their grub to arrive soon.

 

God bless Zimbabwe?