Tag Archives: South Africa

Roberta’s Journal 4

16 Jul

Greetings from Zimbabwe,

The truck that I brought up from South Africa is now registered and licensed in Zimbabwe.  Finally on Thursday, last week Albert purchased insurance and so the truck is legally in Zimbabwe.  I still can’t get over how complicated such a procedure can be.  So much time has been wasted, not to mention the diesel, running from one office to another and always way across town from one another.

The new truck has still not arrived.  The most recent information deals with the same thing I had to deal with at the border when I brought the other truck up.  South Africa now requires an export license for anyone transporting anything across the border.  Nissan indicated in an email to Albert that it had taken three weeks for them to get the license.  Now we are caught in the back-log of vehicles destine for Zimbabwe.  Hopefully it will only be another couple of weeks.

Getting the new truck would not have taken so long if we had not wanted to be exempted from paying duty.  However, this amounted to between $7,000 and $8,000.  To me it seemed worth the wait as long as we now have some form of transportation.  I am not fond of Combie transportation.

HCOC has benefited from Albert becoming a Rotary Member.  One of the Rotary Members has offered to sponsor a deserving student for her A-level education.  He has even offered employment opportunity for the student during school holidays.  I am really pleased that this has happened.  There are other benefits as well coming as a result of connections that Albert has made.  Last week Albert received an award for being the most outstanding new member.  Rotary is really getting involved with the work here at HCOC.  One of the Rotary Members brought a clothing donation from his church for the orphans at HCOC.

Last week, July 12 and 13 we booked a one night stay at Imire, a Safari Lodge about a three hour drive from HCOC.  Here you can see Amanda, Phillip and Bill having an elephant ride.  They did this early in the morning.  After breakfast, we all went on a game drive.  The driver took us to a picnic area where lunch was served.    Some of the elephants showed up and enjoyed treats handed out by the guests.

I am glad that we had this opportunity since driving to Victoria Falls is such a long way.  It wasn’t quite like seeing the animals in their natural surroundings but it was a good experience.

The Surveyor and his crew arrived at HCOC last Wed. the 18th to begin laying out the roads at the new site.  That work is complete now and Albert learned that he now has a larger garden area.  The road that had been in use was through one side of the garden.  The next task is to get a machine in to grade in the roads and crown them for drainage purposes.  The plan is to haul in broken brick and river rock to begin building a road base.  Eventually it will all be covered with crushed granite.  Getting a good base in is essential.

The Surveyor laid out the garage but at this time, the plan is to put in the foundation and slab only.  The rest of the garage building will have to wait until later.  There are way too many places where money is needed right now.  The Safe House is going to cost more dollars than I had anticipated.  It will get done one way or another.

The visitors have all left and it is really quiet around here.  Amanda, Bill and Phillip flew home on Thursday.  I know all of them were looking forward to being warm and having a hot shower.  Those things were hard to come by here.  This has been the coldest spell I can ever remember.  Thursday morning, Albert said that there was a layer of frost ½ inch thick on the top of the truck.  Both the tomato plants and the new Moringa plants are showing the effects of the cold.  It is still cold at night but has moderated a bit during the day.  August will soon be here and the temperatures will begin to warm.

I will bring this letter to a close now.  I will be in Harare tomorrow and want to get this emailed to all of you readers.

In His Service,



Deanna’s Journal

6 Jul

When I returned home to the United States on July 3th, it was with mixed emotions. There is so much work to be done, I could have easily stayed in Zimbabwe much longer. At the same time, it was a blessing to be home with my family for the July 4th holiday. Especially in this country, it is important that we not take for granite the freedoms we enjoy, the sacrifices made for those freedoms, and the blessings we receive daily (like hot showers, indoor toilets, and a Starbucks on every corner!)
While Roberta made the sacrifice to travel to South Africa to bring back a much needed vehicle, Bill, Phil and I continued on with the work, and had some great experiences along the way. Now that I am back home, I would like to share a few of those experiences as a supplement to Roberta’s normal journal reports.

I began my trip by spending some time with members of the Presbytery of Zimbabwe. In particular, on my second day, I made a visit to Lekkerwater Primary School, a school that the Presbytery of Zimbabwe is going to be running, and hopes to make significant improvements to over time. For instance, currently water for the school is accessed by a bucket that is lowered down with a rope into an existing borehole; this is not a very good situation. The Presbytery also hopes to build a Boarding School on the site to provide better educational opportunities to the children.

That night I was hosted by Fred and Julieth Chigwida and enjoyed a traditional Zimbabwe meal. It consisted of sadza and relish with chicken (which was hand-chosen at the chicken project at Lekkerwater and brought home with us in the back of the car… I must say, I have never eaten a chicken that I shared a ride with first!).

As Roberta has already talked about, one of our major challenges has been transportation. But, with a challenge always comes opportunity! Bill, Phil and I have learned the public transportation system pretty well during our stay. We had the “opportunity” to ride in numerous different combies (vans that likely would not be allowed on roads in the US). We coined a phrase that went like this … “we can always fit 5 more people,” and they do in Zimbabwe! We often had more than 20 people crammed into 12 – 15 passenger size vehicles.

If we needed to go into Harare from HCOC, it typically took two combie rides, one to Murewa and a second from there to Harare. That meant hanging out at the local “bus station” in Murewa while Albert found a suitable vehicle. You can see Roberta waiting with a few other Zimbabwe women.

At HCOC (Heather Chimogha Orphan Care) the children loved interacting with Phil and we spent quite a bit of time with some of the teacher’s children that were always around. They were a delight!

We attended church with Godfrey Nyarugwe, who is the treasure for HCOC. The music was beautiful and the service, all spoken in shona, was very moving.

We visited many of the projects that have been started to help HCOC become self-sufficient, such as the gardens to support the feeding center, and the moringa grove, which hopes to be income producing in the future. While there is still a long way to go, a strong foundation is being built for that ultimate goal. Another good example is the poultry project where they currently had about 500 chickens ready for market, and had another 500 new chicks delivered. The baby chicks had to be picked up in Harare and transported back to HCOC using public transportation; can you imagine!?!

In getting into the rhythm of day to day life, we were reminded, that even just having water available can be a challenge. We discovered one day that the water tanks (where water is pumped to from the bore hole) were found empty. When we suspected there was the problem, Phil was the first to volunteer to climb up and confirm. The water level indicator, which showed the tanks were full, was not working, and indeed the tanks were empty!

On one of my favorite days, we met with many of the volunteer orphan caregivers that live in the community and provide care and support to the orphans. A meeting was held to discuss many issues, such as payment of school fees for the orphans, and encouraging the caregivers to bring the children into the clinic to be tested for HIV. Near the end of the meeting, a few of the caregivers raised their hands and wanted to provide testimony to how HCOC has made a difference in the lives of so many orphans, including one caregiver who told the story of Elvis. At 7 years old, Elvis was on his death bed. Through actions taken by Beauty (the nurse at HCOC) to coordinate care and transportation to numerous hospitals, the boy’s life was saved. He is doing well today!

In closing, I would like to take you on the journey that had the most impact of all during my stay; a day that we visited child-headed households. A child-headed household is one where there is no adult caregiver in the home, just the orphan, many times siblings, and sometimes and elderly grandparent who is actually being cared for by the orphans.

The first orphans we visited were Steven (17 years old) and William (15 years old). Both parents are deceased, one in 2005 and the other in 2009. The boys have lived alone since that time. Steven had dropped out of school in 2010 in order to care for his brother and to stay at home to guard food stored in their bedroom. The food didn’t even belong to the boys, it belonged to in-laws. Unfortunately, there are no locks on the door and theft is not uncommon. Additionally, as you will see by the picture, the roof on their rondoval (a typical structure in Zimbabwe, which serves as the kitchen and gathering area) is non-existent. On the day we visited, someone from the community had agreed to come and repair the roof. (You can see William standing at the doorway.)

The next orphan we visited was named Loveness (12 years old) and she takes care of her elderly grandmother who is blind and not well. They have only a small rondoval, no bedroom or other structure. It broke my heart when the grandmother was asked what her hopes and needs were, and she responded that she needed soap. Clearly they had nothing, and her request was so simple … “soap.” As Albert asked the grandmother and Loveness further questions about their circumstances and immediate needs, the grandmother added, “a place to sleep and some blankets,” she also asked for help with school fees for Loveness. Loveness was very quiet, and cried much of the time we were there. It was clear that she had no self-esteem and was on the edge of hopelessness. It was a very emotional visit for all. Albert, and the secondary school headmaster that was with us, took inventory of what they needed, provided instruction to Loveness of what she needed to do, and committed to getting them help. You can’t imagine how hard it is to just say goodbye and leave someone in that kind of situation. Loveness has been on my mind and in my prayers every day since that visit. While I know Albert will do his best, and HCOC can and will help, it’s just impossible to fully comprehend the desperate poverty that exists. As I write this, I am fighting back tears, again.

The last visit we made was to three siblings that lived together, Ishmael (18 years old), Brightone (14 years old), and Scholastic (7 years old). Both parents were deceased. In this situation, however, they had extended family living close by, including grandparents we met. Some support was being provided in the form of food and schools fees by the extended family. Albert tells me this is rare. When asked what they needed, the same types of requests were echoed: blankets, help with food and school fees, and medical assistance for the grandmother who said she was ill. The grandmother also asked for clothing to supplement the little they had been able to share with the children. She went on to thank Albert and HCOC for the help they had been receiving so far. As the secondary school headmaster talked to the children about the importance of going to school, the kids shared their hopes: Ishmael and Scholastic both want to be teachers and Brightone (I love her name, pronounced “bright-one”) wants to be a nurse. We had to hike to the place they lived, and as we started our hike back out to the vehicle that was waiting a little ways away, I noticed the family graveyard where both parents were buried; it was only yards from the orphan’s rondoval.

The needs here in Zimbabwe are real and pervasive. It’s hard to image without seeing it with your own eyes. I hope this supplement to Roberta’s normal journals provide yet another look at life at HCOC. While there are many survival and success stories, and good work is being done every day, there are even more needs and more children that are literally hanging on to the very edge of survival. I don’t think I’ve ever “seen” hopelessness before, but I did that day when I looked into the eyes of Loveness.

“Hope for the Orphans” is printed on our Elephant Rock Team Zimbabwe jersey; because of Loveness, that saying now holds a deeply personal meaning to me, and I hope to each person reading this journal.
Blessings, Deanna Heyn

Journal 2 June 22, 2012

22 Jun

Greetings from South Africa,

I am still in South Africa.  It is cold here, real cold.  Houses here are not built with central heating because their winters only last about two months.  I have never experienced it being so cold.  In the past I have always brought a coat with me.  I have never ever used it and so with our limited luggage this time I opted not to bring a coat.  Wrong decision!

Paperwork on the truck is complete.  The cracked windshield has been replaced.  The truck has been serviced and the bad tire replaced with a new one.  Now I am trying to buy knitting yarn for the Knitting Co-op.  Yarn is not available in Zimbabwe at any price.  I am having difficulty finding knitting yarn appropriate for the knitting machines.  I am afraid that I may not succeed.

I could really head back to Harare tomorrow, Saturday.  I am delaying until Tuesday.  Johann Swart, who brought young people to the U. S. on several occasions, has built a new house.  I haven’t seen him and his family for several trips.  The extended family is having a House Warming party on Sunday.  I am staying to take part in the fun.  Mr. Penny will fly down in on Tuesday and we will leave early Wednesday morning to drive north to Zimbabwe.

We left Pretoria at 4:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning June 27 planning to be at the border by 9:00 a.m.  Our goal was to be at the Zimbabwe side by noon.  You’ve heard of the best laid plans……………Well our plans did not work out.  We learned that we had to have an Export license to get across the border.  This requirement went into effect on June 2.  Weren’t we lucky!  We were told it would take two weeks.  That took the wind out of our sails, believe me!  We connected with a shipping agency for help with the paper work.  It took three days.  Fortunately, I knew of a game lodge about 30 km from the border.  I couldn’t reach them by phone.  So we drove there hoping they had space.  Luck was with us.  Ralph and I have stayed there many times.  We ended up being there for three nights.

We finally received clearance from S. A. at 6:30 on Saturday morning.  It took till 8:00 to get to the Zimbabwe side.  Our papers were checked and rechecked and checked again before we could finally leave S. A.  When we arrived at the Zimbabwe side, there were so many buses and people, getting through looked nearly impossible.  Mr. Penny called a clearing agent that he knew to see if he could help.  He sent one of his men and we did little but sit and wait.  Finally at 3:00 and many dollars less, we finally were on our way to Harare.  Actually, I believe it was record time for the paper work we had to do.  Anyway, we arrived in Harare at about 10:00 p.m.  I will NEVER drive on Zimbabwe roads again after dark.  What a nightmare!

Saturday morning, while Mr. Penny went to check on our papers, I played Car Guard.  While sitting in the truck in the parking lot, a Baboon came walking by.  I might add that he was a real big fellow.  He paid no attention to me but sat down on the curb across from me, much like a man.  He had one foot on the street and the other up on the curb.  His elbow rested on his bent knee just like a human.  The best part was when he scratched his head like he was deep in thought.  Finally he walked to a high fence, climbed it, carefully crossed the coiled razor wire on top and climbed down the other side.  He proceeded to climb on top of a semi-truck and inspect the load.  It was good for a laugh and we needed a laugh at this point.

I am back at the Orphan Care Center.  I spent about four hours today talking with Albert and making plans for moving forward.  Tomorrow, we are going to Harare.  There are many errands to accomplish.  So this is all for now.  I will try to send pictures next time.

In His Service,