This is a line of white text this is a line of white text 6th April, 2011 - John Rose in Zimbabwe (Part 2)
"We refuse to be looked down upon any more!"
There are around 70 ladies in the meeting, which takes place near Bindura, north of Harare, Zimbabwe. All of them are widows. Most lost their husbands to AIDS, and most are HIV+. Some are elderly or middle-aged, but some are still young.
They have come to say ‘thank you’ for providing the food aid which kept them alive from 2008 to 2010, and especially 'thank you’ for the help which has given them small plots of land, and the tools and skills to make it fruitful.
Later we will trek through the head high undergrowth to visit their plots of maize and soya beans. (The plots were given to the project by a local landowner).
Our partners’ training in minimum-tillage agriculture has given them outstanding crops – far more than their land used to produce before. All will have food to eat, as well as seed for next season, plus a surplus to sell for children’s school fees and other longed-for necessities.
To them it is very important to provide for themselves; not to be dependent. For too long they have been looked down upon. Their motto is very simple, and often repeated to me:
“We refuse to be looked done upon any more!”
“We refuse to be considered ‘just widows’ any more!”
“We reject poverty!”
As well as working hard in their new plots the ladies are learning other ways to help themselves. A flourishing adult literacy class is teaching them to read and write – and also to do sums. It’s much harder now for landlords and merchants to cheat them, and their working opportunities are multiplied.
The oldest adult literacy student is 84. Tall, very thin, but with a smile which lights up the whole room, she proudly shows me her exercise books. Her joy at reading for herself is as great as any child’s.
The next stage is some working skills training – first of all garment-making. This will become one of our next projects in Zimbabwe. These ladies no longer want to depend on handouts – they want to look after themselves.
All are so grateful to God and to those who have helped them.
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