Faith: Churches bring hope to Zimbabwe despite social and economic hardship




Churches in Zimbabwe, supported by the charity Tearfund, are working to help families overcome poverty despite a backdrop of plummeting social and economic fortunes.

A number of factors have meant Zimbabwe is facing hardship. Climate change has hampered food production, financial crises such as hyperinflation have discouraged investment and HIV has left Zimbabwe with 1.3 million orphans.

Tearfund’s local partner in the country, Zimbabwe Orphans Through Extended Hands (ZOE), was set up in 2003 as a response to the number of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Today, ZOE continues to support local churches as they work to meet their communities’ needs.

Kester Munzara, 56, lives north of the capital Harare and was unable to provide food for her family or send her children to school. Kester said: “Before I met the people for ZOE I was behind in life. It would hurt when I couldn’t provide for my children and I would pray day and night.”

Working through local partners, Tearfund has helped support families like Kester’s, so they can build on the skills and resources they already have. Kester received training through ZOE, such as conservation farming, which meant she was able to grow maize and raise cattle.

Kester said: “We were taught about self-help groups and how to start income generating projects. I bought cattle after I was taught conservation farming by ZOE. I then bought a cart and a plough and started sending my children to school. We are now a people who can work for ourselves. I am even now able to employ others.”

This harvest season, when Christians traditionally share food parcels with the wider community in need, Tearfund is launching an appeal for funds to support communities to grow their own food. Tearfund does this by providing skills and training through the local church alongside local partners to provide training which builds the community’s resilience.

In March, a report from Tearfund showed that churches in Africa are highly effective catalysts for helping communities lift themselves out of poverty. Individuals surveyed in the report saw improvement in every measured aspect of economic and social wellbeing, including access to food, medicine or schooling, resilience to unexpected events, and financial earnings.

Elizabeth Myendo, who leads Tearfund’s Disaster Response work in Southern and Eastern Africa, said: “Zimbabwe has seen multiple crises for years, yet with funds from Tearfund supporters, we can help more families adapt and grow despite their circumstances, as we have seen in Kester’s case.

Tearfund’s support has helped people across the world in initiating their community development and addressing the community needs, through building health centres and schools, through access to clean water, by building roads and bridges, all while using their own resources.”

Main Photo Credit: Tigzozo Media/Tearfund

Sorted Staff Writer


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