The excellent news is that thanks to your donations, the 250 odd day scholars at Marula Primary School are still receiving lunch every day. And that makes them some of the luckiest people in the country, because a few weeks ago, Zimbabwe pretty much closed down.
No fuel, no money, no supplies in the shops. Since then, fuel supplies have become available, but intermittently – and the same goes for basic supplies. But…if you can find something to buy – you either have to pay in US$ (unavailable to all but the most privileged), or with our “bond” notes which are officially (and ridiculously) still on a par with the US$, but in reality are trading at anything from 3 to 6 : 1. Very luckily, I had managed to organise a delivery of food for the entire term (3 months) just before the crunch came, so there has been no break in the supply of lunches to the day scholars.
A photo of the Zimbabwe flag was doing the rounds on What’s App, with the words “Closed for Stock Take”. And that’s how it is. “Winner Takes All” has been the motto of our government since it took power almost 40 years ago.
Although we are told that the situation is easing, as traders are now being allowed to import basic commodities, like cooking oil and flour, from Botswana or South Africa – there is still almost nothing in the shops. What appears to be happening is that these are being siphoned off to be sold on the black market.
So now you can appreciate just how lucky our children are!
We have managed to find a builder who will construct the teacher’s house at the proposed secondary school just down the road from Marula Primary. The local people have done an excellent job in putting up one classroom block, using volunteers, and once they have a teacher’s cottage, they can start classes. However, they ran out of money a few months ago, so we paid them a visit, had a look at the plans, and called the builder. He was on the point of coming to have a look, when the fuel crisis hit. But when that is resolved, he’ll be able give us a quote. And we hope, by that time, he’ll be able to source some materials for us.
The other project, as I’ve mentioned before, is the open cooking hut for the ladies who give the day scholars their daily meal. And this is the priority – they are spending hours every day in a small room, choking on the smoke from their three legged pots. Again, the builder will be able to quote on this when he can find the fuel to get out to Marula.
The great advantage we have is that we can rely on the funds you supply externally, so that while any purchases we make for the school will be on the high side – we will get the best possible prices.
You’ll be happy to know that despite everything, we are still going to be giving the Grade 7’s a leaving party with chicken stew (a great treat) and the loads of sweets that I managed to buy before the prices went crazy. Great news too is that the Marula choir came first in the provincials – for the sixth time running – with their beautifully harmonized Batonka songs. I’m going to be video’ing them shortly, and will post the link on this website.
If you are interested in knowing a bit more about what’s happening in Zimbabwe, do have a look at zimbabwesituation.com – a daily roundup of the news.
Thank you as always to our wonderful donors – I don’t need to ask the question: what would we do without you? I know. Nowhere else could we get the help that you give our children.