The Face of Zimbabwe
By Julie Gillies
Sleeping with a loaded gun next to his bed for protection did little to ease Brian’s mind, so he walked his property at least twice nightly, warily keeping watch for intruders. With increasing frequency Brian and his wife Nikki learned of friends being brutally beaten, robbed, or worse. The rapidly deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe made the couple realize they faced a greater chance of being beaten, raped, or robbed than not.
This grim reality, coupled with the country’s astronomical inflation rate, convinced the couple to flee their homeland in 2005. After obtaining visas with miracle ease, Brian and Nikki arrived in the United States with their 5 children, 5 suitcases and $5,000.
Brian was born to missionaries living in Zimbabwe. His Pennsylvania-born parents remain in Africa, unwilling to leave in spite of the country’s spiraling chaos; the people they love and serve have come to depend on them.
Nikki is native born, third generation African. Many people also depend on Nikki’s parents, who have run an orphanage for more than 20 years. Built bit by bit as God supplied finances and materials, it is funded in part by the small, family owned and operated gas station and mini-store nearby.
Two buildings on a nearby property each house 24 children, with a live-in adult in charge of cooking, laundry and day-to-day life. Though they’re equipped to house only 48 children, 74 orphans now call the place home. “There are so many AIDS babies who have no one to care for them,” Nikki says.
“Have I told you about Clara?” Nikki asks. “A filthy, elderly grandfather walked into my mom’s garage six months ago. He carried a grimy 2-liter bottle topped with a nasty rag, which held a few ounces of goat’s milk. In his other arm rested a tiny, dirty, skeleton of a baby covered with a soiled cloth. Baby Clara was so malnourished she couldn’t even cry. When my mum bathed her for the first time the infant could only make a wretched, squeaky noise.” Nikki pauses to wipe her eyes. “Clara is thriving now, but it’s getting to the point that my mum is thinking perhaps its better for the orphans to die than face this life.”
Nikki, born and raised in Zimbabwe, grows teary-eyed when asked if she wanted to leave her country. “We had to leave. We didn’t want to leave. It’s not something you choose—it’s something that’s forced upon you.” Her parents and other family members remain in the country whose inflation rate has unfathomably soared beyond 200,000,000%.
“This is how bad inflation is,” Nikki explains. “From shelf to check-out, prices increase. When you walk to a store shelf and retrieve a can of beans, the price you see will be, say $4.50. But by the time you reach the cash register, the price will have increased. Economically speaking, it’s nearly impossible to live in Zimbabwe.” The Z$ is worthless now, and most businesses only accept US$.
One of the reasons food is in such short supply in the nation is due to politically motivated farm invasions. “Of the 2,500 commercial farms that once thrived in Zimbabwe, approximately 100 are left.” Nikki says.
Basic electricity is a luxury that that is far from dependable. “It goes off for a week at a time, and then all the food you’ve managed to get goes rotten,” Nikki says. “The power goes out at least half the day, every single day. Fridges frequently break down because all the off-and-on burns out their motors.” Telephone service is also frustratingly sporadic at best. “Occasionally I can phone home and get right through.” Nikki explains. “But most of the time it will literally take me days to get through.”
When asked about the water situation, Nikki replies, “If you have no bore hole, you have no water. The only way to have a continuous water supply is to have a bore hole (well) and a generator.
Otherwise, you might have water for one week, then no water for weeks.” Sanitation is therefore a pressing issue, with cholera outbreaks ravaging the population in record-breaking numbers, stressing the already overloaded hospitals, many of which have little or no medical supplies. Many hospitals are simply closed.
In fact, the local hospital regularly contacts Nikki’s mother for essentials, thanks to a laden 40-foot container sent to the couple from a generous church in Tennessee last year. Supplies such as antibiotics, medicines, and other basic provisions, including necessities for childbirth, are all available and generously supplied through Nikki’s parents to this fortunate hospital—for now.
Because of the failing banks, the valueless Zimbabwe dollar, and soaring food costs, Nikki’s parents regularly drive across the line into South Africa to purchase food for their store, home, and orphanage. In South Africa most banks and stores use the U.S. dollar, which is stable, so the price of food is more manageable. “My mum hasn’t been to a bank in over eight months.” Nikki says.
Zimbabwe’s decline has been steadily progressing for nine years, according to Nikki, and the violence is getting worse. Horrific, brutal crimes and killings are increasing. Bodies are accumulating so quickly that they’re stacked one atop another for burial. The family has had their share of tragedy: Nikki’s parents were violently beaten several years ago “simply because they are white”, according to Nikki. Her father has now been diagnosed with the first stages of Parkinson’s disease, attributed to head trauma from the beating.
“The people in Zimbabwe are so weary,” Nikki says through tears. “It’s been so intense for so many years. The people there are absolutely desperate."
Please pray for the people of Zimbabwe. Below are prayer points you may wish to print out to help you pray specifically. Use this list as a reminder to keep this country and its people in your prayers.
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Prayer for Zimbabwe - Ask God to:
- Remove unrighteous leaders and replace them with godly leaders
- Bring divine order into the government
- Strengthen the people of Zimbabwe
- Protect the people
- Provide food and water to desperate families
- Provide medicines and supplies to hospitals
- Grant wisdom for daily decisions
- Peace and rest in the midst of Zimbabwe’s chaos
- Finances for food, medicine, bills, etc.
Julie Gillies is passionate about encouraging and equipping women to fulfill their God-given destinies. She has written over 75 articles for various publications including P31 Woman magazine, The Quiet Hour, Devotions magazine, and A Time to Love magazine online, among others. Julie is also a contributing writer to the books Daily Devotions for Writers and Penned from the Heart. For more of Julie’s writing, or to join the Word Chicks prayer group, visit: www.juliegillies.com.
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