Stories For Change 54


Chickens, Clinics and Classrooms

When Stanley Muzingwa gave up his job to be part of his minister’s dream, little did he realise that a few years on he would be responsible for a clinic, a school with sixty children and forty hens in the empty manse garage.

Lomagundi Uniting Presbyterian Church of South Africa, Chinyhoi has a five hundred strong congregation, two hundred of which are children. Since the departure of many of the white farmers in the area, due to the violence against them, they have lost many of their English speaking congregation. They still have two services, one in English and the other in Shona but the Shona service is now by far the largest. Today, as a congregation, they are responsible for a clinic, an informal school and have big plans for the future despite the hardships they face.

The clinic, which is the only one in the area, the nearest being five kilometres away, provides a life line for the local people. There are three staff, two nurses and a doctor. Small sick children nestled in parent’s arms wait patiently to be seen. Most come for family planning, HIV testing and anti retroviral drugs given by their Presbytery in Denver, Colorado. The clinic is small and cramped so the church are looking to make the now empty manse into a new clinic with a small ward. Plans are already in hand for this change of use but Stanley explained that these things take time and will need a little help along the way. Corruption is rife in all parts of Zimbabwean society and planning officers are no different.

They will then buy a new Manse away from the church for a new minister when he or she comes. At present the garage is being used as a hen house to give food to those in the congregation who struggle because unemployment is so high at ninety two percent.

In the church hall, sixty children cram round large tables, diligently listening to their teachers. Whilst the head teacher is qualified the rest are volunteer church members brushing up on their maths and science. With school fees often out of reach for most parents, a generation is growing up with no formal education. The ramifications of this are disastrous for Zimbabwe, which is why the church answered their needs with this temporary arrangement. The pupils have been able to register at the local school to take their exams but Stanley hopes that soon the school will itself be registered.

In the afternoon the children enjoy lifestyle activities and games including sewing and football. Before independence schooling was free but many were prepared to pay for education as a way to develop the nation. Sadly this did not happen and the children are now suffering.

To see a church so in tune with the needs of the local community and congregation is astounding. Stanley is creating the old Minister’s dream but it is evident he has made it his own. He looks forward to the day when they can open the new clinic and children can be taught in proper classrooms with modern facilities and resources. With a faith that seems to move mountains, chickens, clinics and children I am sure he will succeed.

Christian Aid’s Prayer Diary for 16-22nd May asked people to pray for the people of Zimbabwe for whom the past two years have been a rollercoaster ride. The politically motivated violence, the collapse in the economy and desperate food shortages meant that at least 5.5 million Zimbabweans are estimated to have depended on food aid to survive during 2009. Christian Aid partners have pioneered simple and cost effective farming techniques to help poor, small-scale farmers there to survive.

please pray for:

• ZimPro, promoting agricultural techniques that help poor farmers in Zimbabwe to grow more food in a changing climate

• the Dabane Trust, building dams and pumps that bring water to market gardens, ensuring crops all year round

• the Habakkuk Trust, encouraging community ‘action teams’ to restore water pumps ensuring clean and safe water for their communities

• the estimated 4 million Zimbabweans who fled
the country during the violence

• the 3 million Zimbabweans believed to be in South Africa, living in appalling conditions in informal settlements.



Violence in Kingston, Jamaica

The ‘don structure’ in Jamaica has existed for generations; it has been a double-edged sword that has both undermined government and increased levels of crime and violence in the country, but at the same time filled gaps in parts of rural and urban Jamaica where poverty is deeply entrenched and where the state presence has been historically – and continues to be – very weak.

Political parties have for more than 30 years colluded with and supported rather than dismantled this system.

None of the solutions are easy. The optimists see this as a possibility to break with the past and begin to look at creating more democratic and accountable governance in Jamaica.

The pessimists believe that the violence that has started will be a long time in going away and that the result will not be a better Jamaica, but the same Jamaica with an increased number of dead and another tender wound.

For the staff with Christian Aid, it means minimising movement and staying safe. And more than anything, it means monitoring the situation and ensuring that we make the best possible decisions. For our partners, it is more complicated. Many work in the poorer areas of town. They will have to work hard at staying safe, and operations will have to be suspended for a short period of time at the very least.

For our partner Jamaicans for Justice that is vocal on issues of governance, rights and corruption, it is a difficult time, as they will again be in the spotlight. But they are used to that. They continue to be brave and unflinching in their desire to build a better Jamaica.

However, it is essential that the citizens of Jamaica push their political leaders to break with the past and create a new and more transparent system of governance.

This is an extract of a post on the Christian Aid website written by Judith Turbyne, Christian Aid’s Head of Caribbean region. To read the whole article visit:


“In January I wrote to WDM supporters asking them to e-mail Douglas Alexander, the UK Secretary of State for International Development, about a deal the UK government was proposing to help Bangladesh cope with the devastating effects of climate change. Thousands of people responded, asking the UK government not to attach unfair conditions to this money and to ensure that it didn’t go through the undemocratic World Bank, but that instead for it to be delivered in a way that would be fairest and of most value to the people of Bangladesh.  Since then, alongside other campaigning by organisations in both Bangladesh and the UK, the position of DFID has shifted. Though the deal is not exactly what we wanted, it is now a lot closer to being fair.

I feel sure these changes are due to joint and parallel campaigning in the UK and Bangladesh. Sending thousands of e-mails and letters, in conjunction with other brilliant campaigning, really got this issue on the agenda. I’m very much pleased to offer my sincere regards and thanks to people like you who took the time to add your voice to the campaign. We are now moving towards a much better deal that will help ensure this money is well spent and that the affected people in Bangladesh have a voice that is listened to.

Doha Campaigner with Equity and Justice Bangladesh


Greenbelt: 27th – 30th August

Join Christian Aid at the Greenbelt Festival where they will be launching the exciting new stage of their tax campaign – turning their attention to companies within the FTSE 100 and how they can be part of the answer in their quest for greater financial transparency.

20th October Christian Aid Supporter Day & Mass Lobby of Parliament.

Join Christian Aid for a jam packed day – starting at 11am in Methodist Central Hall, hear from their new Director, Loretta Minghella, as well as a world famous activist. Then friends from Stop Climate Chaos Coalition attempt to lobby as many MPs in the new parliament to make sure climate change is at the top of their agenda. Reserve your place by contacting

Linda Mead – Commitment for Life Programme Co-ordinator,
Mission Team, United Reformed Church
01702 315981
Commitment for Life is here to help United Reformed Churches and LEPs work for a fairer world and for peace with justice, recognising that change and response starts with each one of us.

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