Zimbabwe turmoil - up close and personal

(NOTE: this text was created several weeks ago but I was just able to post. Today, Monday June 23rd, the situation in Zimbabwe was on the front page of the London Times with a call for UN intervention/sp reporting from Edinburgh Scotland ... ha ha!)

While in Zambia our family met and got to know several farming families originally from the country to the south of Zambia, Zimbabwe (Zim-bob-way).

You may have read about Zimbabwe recently due to the controversy and violence that has erupted over the ‘democratic’ election process and the ‘elected’ dictator, Robert Mugabe.
I had the opportunity to interview a Zimbabwe national, Mr. Mark Wenham, one evening and that interview follows below.

But 1st my dad asked to provide everyone with a (not so brief ☺) historical perspective on Zimbabwe;

The first modern explorers were British colonists and missionaries who arrived in the region in the 1850s (David Livingstone most notable. The city of Livingstone in S. Zambia was the original capital of Zambia), and the massive influx of foreigners led to the establishment of the territory Rhodesia, named after Cecil Rhodes of the British South Africa Company. Mr. Rhodes became extremely rich mining Africa’s diamond and gold resources. He led the British colonization of Africa in order to exploit and control these vast resources.

In 1923, the European settlers voted to become the self-governing British colony of Southern Rhodesia. After a brief federation with Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Nyasaland (now Malawi) in the post–World War II period, Southern Rhodesia (also known as Rhodesia) chose to remain a colony when its two partners voted for independence in 1963.
On Nov. 11, 1965, the conservative white-minority government of Rhodesia declared its independence from Britain. The country resisted the demands of black Africans, and British Prime Minister Ian Smith withstood pressure, economic sanctions, and guerrilla attacks in his effort to uphold white supremacy in

On March 1, 1970, Rhodesia formally proclaimed itself a republic. This triggered a bitter civil war between the white minority government and fighters for African independence, ending only in 1980, with the granting of independence and the holding of a general election under British auspices, which was won decisively by Robert Mugabe’s ZANU party.

In 2000, veterans of Zimbabwe's war for independence in the 1970s began squatting on land owned by white farmers in an effort to reclaim land taken under British colonization— most of Zimbabwe's most fertile farming land was owned by 4,000 whites. In Aug. 2002, Mugabe ordered all white farmers to leave their land without compensation. Mugabe's support for the squatters and his repressive rule has led to foreign sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Modern Zimbabwe is in a terrible state. The economy has all but collapsed. There is widespread famine, which has been cynically manipulated by the government so opposition strongholds suffer the most. The government lacks the resources or machinery to deal with the ravages of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which affects an estimated one-quarter of the population. With all this and the forced and violent removal of white farmers in a brutal land redistribution program, President Mugabe has earned himself widespread scorn from the international arena.
In the current electoral process, over 60 opposition (to Mugabe) party persons have been murdered, 1000’s of supporters brutalized and intimidated, and at various times the opposition leadership has been thrown repeatedly in jail. Just recently, a high-ranking opposition party official was charged with treason (punishable by death) and imprisoned. /ap

My brief interview with Mr. Mark Wenham follows. Mr. Wenham has been a great blessing to the Village of Hope orphanage in housing construction, electrical and plumbing issues, as well as farm management.
I conducted the following interview with Mr. Wenham at his Farm in Zambia in an attempt to learn more 1st hand about Zimbabwe.

Sarah: Thank you very much for agreeing to this interview. What brought you to Zambia?
Mr. Wenham: After being born and raised in Zimbabwe, the political climate brought about by Robert Mugabe made life unbearable. After 28 years in power, historical issues with independence from the colonization by Great Britain basically allowed the government to come in and take the land from the white African farmers and give it to the black Africans. This is land that was bought and paid for by my family, including farming equipment and often times personal possessions as well were taken. We know families that were literally given hours to vacate and could only leave with the clothes on their backs.
As we sought God’s new direction for our lives, Zambia was an open door He provided.

Sarah: How is life different here in Zambia?
Mr. Wenham : Geographically Zimbabwe is much more mountainous and since there is no ocean sea port, everything has to be imported/transported making it much more expensive to operate our farm here in Zambia vs. Zimbabwe. The skilled labor is less available due to the fact that Zambia was originally a socialist government (after independence) and the people became accustomed to the government supplying their needs.

Sarah: How is life the same?
Mr. Wenham: Both come from British colonization. Zambia has been independent for about 42 years, Zimbabwe about 28. The weather and cultures are similar, housing standards, etc.. Because Zimbabwe did not have a socialist form of government, you grew up learning farming and other commercial skills to provide for your livelihood. You learned from your fathers, as their fathers learned from theirs.

Sarah: I have just one final question for you. What would you like everyone to know about Zimbabwe?
Mr. Wenham: Zimbabwe was at one time the referred to as the ‘bread basket’ of Africa due to abundance of farming and other natural resources. It once had an economy that rivaled S. Korea and it’s currency was 1 to 1 equivalent to the British Pound. Sadly today it’s people are starving and it has the highest inflation in the world, making it’s currency virtually worthless. But it’s biggest problem is not allowing God to lead their independence, but instead now relying on the governments (both local and foreign)for survival.
My father-in-law many years ago developed a program he called “Farming God’s Way”, a simple straight forward way of conservation farming. He foresaw that the farmer’s arrogance and pride would eventually be their downfall by not allowing the African workers to be ‘part owners’ in their farms and/or own farms outright.
God is now dealing with man’s pride. We pray that repentance and revival may one day come to Zimbabwe. We pray for our country and that one day we can return. My wife and I were born there, it is our home.

Sarah: Thank you Mr. Wenham. Your story and country has been very fascinating to learn more about during my stay in Zambia. We are praying for you.


Do you know an orphan?

There are 143,000,000 orphans in the world. There are 1.2 million in Zambia. Do you know an orphan? Do you know one by name? I would like to introduce you to twenty-one. I would encourage you to pick one of these children and pray for them daily. Maybe even put a picture of them on your refrigerator.

Mary Situmbeko (8)- Mary is the tallest of all the children and has had a big burden of responsibility. When she was orphaned she had to act as mother to her younger two siblings (twins), Gift and Exilda. She has a sweet smile and loves to help Auntie Rose in the garden.

Gift Situmbeko (6) twin- Gift is a tall happy child. He can be a bit shy around new people, but once you get to know him, he is precious. He listens very well and tries to follow directions to the best of his ability.

Exilda Situmbeko (6) twin- Exilda, like her brother, is very sweet, but unlike him, is very outgoing when you meet her. She loves people and could sit for hours and read the school’s new books to you. Right now, she is proud of herself for learning her English alphabet. “Auntie, look at my letter ‘B’!”

Francis Kalaeya (7)- Is very outgoing and loves to talk. I can always hear him laughing outside. He is a very eager learner and is a good older brother to all the kids in his cottage.

Natasha Kalaeya (5) sister to Francis- Natasha is very precocious and outgoing. She has the biggest smile and the whitest teeth I have ever seen! At times she can have quite a temper, but overall she is very happy and loves to help out with the dishes.

Sharon Jaula (7)- Sharon is the prettiest girl there. She has very white teeth and big black eyes. Her smile is so sweet and it reflects her personality. She is rather a tomboy but loves to take care of the younger children. You can always tell her shoes from the rest as they are white patent leather. We thought that was pretty funny!

John Jaula (6) younger brother to Sharon- John loves to look at books with his big sister, Sharon. He and his younger brother always have a certain look of sadness. It makes you want to kneel down and tickle them or something to get them to smile. I wonder that all the children do not have the same look of sadness in their eyes.

David Jaula (5) youngest Jaula- John is a very cute little boy, but is not as carefree as the rest of the children. He also has a look of sadness about him, but since he is younger, it does not show as many traces as John. All three of these kids are very sweet and love one-on-one attention. David loves to walk in line to school and shout “right, left, right, left…” with all the others.

Selita Mushota (?)- Selita is a very cheerful girl with a bright smiling face. She had been given a homemade book with her picture and messages for her in it. The day she got it, she ran around and showed everyone. “Look, look!!!”

Moses Ngambo (?)- Moses, like the rest, has a big smile, but every time I see him, I am struck with his teeth! He has the whitest teeth I have ever seen! When he came to the Village of Hope, he was thought to be a slow learner. He just needed help and direction and now he is doing very well.

Brighton Lunda (?)- Brighton is one of the older kids and is always active. He can be very funny at times, and the encouraging fact is that he loves to learn, and is eager to do his best.

Isaac Phiri (8)- Isaac’s picture was chosen to be on the cover of WORLD Magazine that contained the article, which brought us to Zambia. He knows English very well for his age because his grandmother used to speak it to him. He is a very bright boy and already is working on his multiplication!

Gift ? (?)- Gift is a small boy with a big heart that is showed through his gigantic smiles. He is so cute that he reminds me of an overgrown baby! He has the brightest smile and loves to help people. One night I saw him trying to bring in a chair that was three times his size. Finally, after several long tries, he said, “Auntie, help?”

Sharon Shaila (?)- What a beautiful girl Sharon is! Her eyes express all her emotions.

Joyce ? (?)- Joyce is a tiny girl. Very vivacious and cheerful, and makes everything into a game. Please pray for her especially. She has a hip problem that may need surgery and gives her a severe limp.

Docklin ? (?)- Docklin is definitely the baby of the village. She is three going on four, but will tell you that she is six, or seven, or eight! She is very sweet and loves to read books with people. I can hear her even now saying, “Auntie, Auntie, come play!”

Telness ? (?)- Telness is a very quiet boy – often very serious. He does want to learn and does his best, though.

Roman ? (?)- Before Roman came to the Village of Hope, he was living with his grandparents. He didn’t go to school. He did work for his grandparents. Before he was taken to the Village, his grandparents told him he was being taken to a place where they sacrificed children. They were Satanists. Roman screamed and kicked and cried for several days at the Village of Hope because he believed his grandparents. Now he is settling into a new way of life. He smiles a lot because he has hope and feels loved. He loves books and is quite a good artist.

Shapie ? (?)- Shapie is a quiet boy who is an eager learner. He loves to build things and loves books.

Adam ? (?)- Adam has a winsome smile and loves the Lincoln logs. He also was fascinated with Joe’s watch.

Maggie ? (?)- Maggie has a very sweet smile. She is a wonderful helper. Her housemother, Rose, often asks her to help. As you can see, she really enjoyed the lincoln logs too.

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” –James 1:27


The happy ladies

What do the women do with spare time? If you asked them, they might ask you in return, “What is spare time?” Mrs. Schwartz asked the same question a number of months ago. She came up with an answer. She decided to start a women’s club. They meet twice a week to study the word of God, listen to a “Medical Minute”, discuss business, learn skills, and sing.


There are about thirty who attend. Everyone has to walk from nearby villages, and most have at least two miles one way to traverse. This club helps women like Alice (mentioned in an earlier post) to support their families. Their business is producing merchandise consisting of small, medium, and large bags crocheted out of recycled plastic grocery bags, beautiful baby accessories, rag mats, and shitangas. All of these are quality products that look like professionals could have made them. A few ladies went over to another group like theirs and learned the craft of knitting and crocheting. They then came back and taught it to others. The Lord is showing these ladies the skills that they can offer and the gifts that they have.
Chimwemwe, translated into English, means “happiness.” These ladies are truly happy. Although many of them have difficult lives, their joy comes from the Lord.