After three decades of relentless oppression by megalomaniac president Robert Mugabe, Zimbabweans are entering the worst of their seven straight years of hunger and suffering. With a cholera epidemic threatening the lives of nearly half the malnourished population, 2009 looks grim for the collapsing country. The following report is from a Christian Aid-assisted Zimbabwean ministry in the thick of the misery.
We are so sorry for the communication breakdown. Our internet was not working at all due to major power cuts in our country. We are just able to send this short message to you. A HAPPY NEW YEAR to all at Christian Aid and to those who are praying for us here in Zimbabwe.
Everything in Zimbabwe has changed, we must now use US dollars to buy everything. If it were not for the help of Christian Aid, even more (including us) would be starving to death.
We were desperately low in groceries and gasoline and are just making it through the day. It is becoming so common to see families eating one meal per day—sometimes none at all. We dried some fresh fish and took it, along with some corn meal to the starving people south of Harare. It is so difficult to get corn meal. Before switching to dollars, it cost $800 million Zim dollars.
We met a woman who lost her husband in a car accident. She has six children, and her two brothers and mother stay with her to make 10 people who cannot afford one loaf of bread. They were so grateful when we gave them some corn meal and dried fish. There are so many more families like this, who barely survive on insects, leaves and wild berries.
"Mugabe banned international aid from coming to Zimbabwe from June to August 2008, following a terrible harvest, which put millions on the verge of starvation. He has used food and land as weapons to hang on to power. The United States and UN are feeding nearly half of Zimbabwe's 12 million people.
hungry eyes in Zimbabwe
The two main hospitals have now closed down because doctors and nurses stopped coming to work because they weren’t getting paid; teachers are refusing to go back to school as their salaries have become worthless.
What is worse, our water and sewer system are in shambles. The water has frequently gone dry in Harare, and several sewer lines have burst. Garbage is piling up, and a cholera epidemic has now overtaken us. Tens of thousands have been infected, with more than 1,000 deaths throughout the country. Mugabe denies this epidemic, telling the world that it has ended. Yet it is now spreading to nearby countries.
As I am writing this email to you we are in 21 days of fasting and praying.
We've never stopped praying for you and we appreciate your love and thought for our country. These times we are living in now are very trying times, but we give Jesus all the honor and glory for having raised you all to help us in Zimbabwe.
Love you, love you, love you,
Names withheld for security
Zimbabweans look at the year 2000 as the time when Mugabe began to destroy what was once the breadbasket of Africa. In a show of political power, he ordered gangs to infiltrate and take over successful commercial farms run by white owners. These farms are now not functioning. They employed the largest number of Zimbabweans, yet thousands of them were overrun and millions lost jobs and homes.
With inflation literally running into the hundreds of millions of percent, Zim dollars have become worthless, causing the collapse of Zimbabwe's health, education and sanitation systems.
In 2006 Mugabe took control of Harare’s water and sewer systems, which were run by the city council of his political opponent. Without the needed revenue to keep these services functioning, they have collapsed, along with the rest of the nation resulting in filthy and disease-ridden conditions everywhere.
Funds are urgently needed. Gifts may be sent to Christian Aid