Zimbabwe Pensioner Support Fund
December 2013 Report
At last our December trip becomes a reality as the trucks arrive in Duiwelskloof to pick me up for our Christmas adventure
Hannes drove the Nissan UD90 up and Daniel Koekemoer, his son Jordan and a friend Brendan, with the Nissan UD80, followed by Hannes’s daughter, Linda Schultz driving the ZPSF Van. I took over the UD90 from Hannes and Hannes took over from Linda to drive further to Musina. On arrival in Musina we were advised that the paperwork to cross the border was not ready yet, so a longer border crossing was anticipated. I spent the night at the home of my friend and passenger, Joe Joubert’s home, whilst Hannes and the rest of the team slept over at the NG Church, where the trucks were also kept.
By 11.00 we were at the border after receiving the paperwork, but were advised that the trucks were going to be inspected on the Zim side…we were a bit concerned when we heard that!! Hannes and Linda went through the vehicle section of the border and after many hours they managed to get through in the afternoon and could travel through to Bulawayo.
We, (the trucks) cleared the SA side by 12.30 and arrived on the Zim side at about 13.00…AND then the LONG WAIT began with seemed like 100s and 100s of trucks wanting to get through, it was hot, dusty, mosquitoes galore and really testing one’s patience to the limit!! At 21.30 we were taken to the inspection, lock-up area, just to be told the trucks were only going to be inspected the following day.
Well, what could we do really, after being tired after a long, hot day we just had to make a plan of getting some sleep, before the next day. We all found a way of making a bed in the trucks and had some “shut eye”
Our trucks were inspected and eventually it was all systems go by midday, and here Daniel and his passengers took the eastern route to Masvingo and Joe and I were on our way to Bulawayo. We travelled well, and were in Bulawayo by 16.00, but arrived in heavy rain, a “Cloudburst” We headed for the warehouse where all the extra stock we carried from Malelane was offloaded first and then our truck was reloaded with the boxes for all the homes we were going to visit on the western-route. By 19.00 we were finished with all the loading and could head for Coronation Cottages, where a nice warm bed and a plate of food awaited us and where the truck is kept as well.
By 05.30 Joe and myself were on the road towards Gweru, our first stop to do the 2 homes there, Bogies and Huisvergesig. The folk all welcomed us and were glad to see us and between offloading one tried to chat and catch up with these precious folk. We offloaded in the pouring rain at Huisvergesig, so didn’t see many folk there, but we got soaking wet. Hannes and Linda followed us with the Van on route, and for most folk it was the first time they met Linda. We then headed to Kwekwe and Redcliff, to offload at the homes there, we had lovely rain most of time on route. We then left for Kadoma, at Westview and here again all the eager pensioners were waiting for us and we could chat, give the necessary hugs and best wishes from South Africa. We parked the truck and as usual our friends Clive and Estelle o’Reilly had a plate of food for us as well as a warm comfy bed to sleep on. Thank you dear friends, it’s so appreciated!
Hannes and Linda didn’t travel with us to Kadoma as they had to get to Sherugwe and Zvishavane to make sure those pensioners also get their special Christmas box and treats.
After a good breakfast we headed for Chinhoyi to Sunningdale to offload the Christmas boxes, with many of the folks there to receive them. They were excited and some couldn’t wait to open their boxes and Christmas gifts to see what they got. Oooeees and Aaaaas came from most who saw how they have been spoilt. They are like Children on the day of Christmas excited to receive their gift and open it. This makes us feel good when we see this and then we feel it’s all worthwhile to do what we do. We had lunch with my cousins, Koos & Marie van Aswegan and could catch up on family
We then headed back to Kwekwe where we slept in a guesthouse that Ken & Beda organized for the ZPSF team for 2 nights. Thank you friends, so much appreciated!! You’re Stars…..
The Homes in Kwekwe and Redcliff have an annual Christmas function and we as a Fund were especially invited to this year’s one to show their gratitude and appreciation what we do for the elderly in Zimbabwe.
We spent the morning chilling and wondering around the town of Kwekwe until the Christmas luncheon started, which was for 12.30.
The party was great and I was astounded to see how these elderly folk can party and dance and they partied way into the night. It’s such a small world and I found out that the guy who did the music and entertainment for the party, is an old school friend of mine, Steve Theron from Harare. We chatted about our school days etc and we went down memory lane with much laughter. Steve and his wife invited us as a Fund to contact them whenever we are in Harare to come and sleep over by them and will organize a safe place for the truck to park overnight. I say this was a God appointed meeting, Godly favour is upon us!
After breakfast both trucks left for Bulawayo as also Hannes and Linda with the Van. Once in Bulawayo we went to the warehouse to offload all the empty boxes we collected through the country. We went back to Coronation Cottages where we planned our early departure for the border tomorrow. I picked up a dose of flu from getting wet and also hurt my back offloading and for me to get home was a blessing.
We were up early to leave for the border at 04.00 and had a good trip to the border. We were blessed to witness a magnificent sunrise and to realize once again, our God is in control and He cares for us, almost like God was please with us, truly a “God Wink” moment.
Zimbabwe had good rains, and throughout the trip, we drove in rain, so refreshing to see the new shoots of grass coming up and the green leaves on the trees.
We had a good border crossing in all about 2 hours, compared to the crossing when we came in!
It was now homeward bound, had some breakfast with Joe and his wife in Musina, and through rain I travelled home to my dear wife and some well earned bed-rest and “Chillax” time.
All in all it was a good trip and without YOU, our donors these trips can not happen.
To all of you who especially donated and worked for this Christmas trip a hearty and sincere thank you.
To each one of you who donated finances towards the Christmas gifts, Thank you; to each of those ladies who sorted and packed hundreds of gifts thank you, especially to Santie and friends of Nelspruit and to a Liz’s group of pensioners in Duiwelskloof as well, thank you, thank you!
Thank you to Joe, for taking out the time to travel with me on this trip and to Hester, his wife for allowing him to come with me
From us all at Zimbabwe Pensioners Support Fund we want to extend sincere and warm wishes to ALL our donors and supporters a blessed, peaceful, happy and prosperous 2014. May 2014 be a bumper year in so many ways.
Blessings…Pastor Attie Botha
December 2013 Report by Daniel KOEKEMOER,
Jordan KOEKEMOER and Flea LE FEBOUR
My trip, this December, was made all the more enjoyable and memorable by taking along my son, Jordan, and his friend Brendan (Flea) le Febour. It occurred to me, and perhaps all of us, that, in time, we will need to bring in some new, younger participants at the fund. The trips can be strenuous and tiring and have always been undertaken by us slightly older fellows. Having some young ones along, showing them the great need in Zimbabwe, and having them show such special love and interest in the pensioners of Zimbabwe, was a valuable exercise, which one hopes will see them doing the trips in future, when our old enthusiastic wheels come off.
We got to Malelane on Sunday 8 December and offloaded our donations from Kwa Zulu. This included generous donations from the Port Shepstone NG church community, who, once again, packed precious Christmas gifts for each of the pensioners. Great thanks again to Elise Gerber and all her helpers. Other major KZN food donations for this trip came from Mike & Susan Lezar and the Grace family church and north coast Pharmacist, Toefie Grobelaar, both South Africans, with no particular connection to Zimbabwe; just a love for pensioners, wherever they may be. Whilst we’re always grateful for all our KZN donations, I’m always moved by contributions from ordinary South Africans with a special compassion for unknown & needy folk in another country. There’s something special about that! Many thanks to all you guys.
To our relief, Linda, at the Malelane warehouse, had the trucks packed and ready to roll. We left early on Monday morning and had a hassle free trip to Musina. After a silent start to the trip, we stopped off in Tzaneen, where the boys bought some radio speakers, which they installed in the truck, on the move. Needless to say, the rest of the trip was somewhat louder and lively.
At Musina, we were put up for the night by the NG church who, very generously, offered their air conditioned school staff room, where we could sleep and escape the stifling heat.
Tuesday morning was a slow start while we waited for the cross border papers to be finalised so that we could approach the border post at Beitbridge. The paperwork came through at about 11h00 am and we made for the dustbowl at the border; an area reserved for trucks waiting to cross through. We were advised that our trucks were up for inspection and suspected that this could somewhat delay our crossing. At about 21h30 on Tuesday night we eventually edged our way through and were told to follow the lead vehicle to the dreaded pound where our inspection was set to happen. The “Inspector” then advised us that she was due to get off work in half an hour and she was not prepared to do the inspection that night. We were also told that we could not stay over in the pound, with the trucks, and would have to sleep elsewhere. After some stern words from Pastor Attie, the guards allowed us to set up camp in the back of the trucks where we bedded down for a rather warm night.
On Wednesday morning, some advance workers arrived and started re-arranging our carefully packed trucks so that the inspection queen could stroll unhindered through the boxes. She arrived at about 9h30 and opened exactly three boxes, two on Pastor Atties truck and one on mine. This constituted an “inspection” and, after a substantial wait for paperwork, she allowed us to go………………
We went our separate ways from Beitbridge, Attie and Joe to Bulawayo and me and the boys to Masvingo.
We had a near miss near Rutenga when I slowed the truck down to allow a cow to cross the road. A (previously noticed) reckless bus overtook us, at great speed, while we were almost stopped, and ended, very suddenly, the life of the poor beast. We were very fortunate that he never swerved into us, as our fate may have been similar to that of the poor cow. On stopping, I did my sternest march over to the bus driver and his emerging passengers and severely reprimanded him for his stupidity, much to the agreement of his passengers.
We arrived in Masvingo at about 14h30 and did our first delivery at Mucheke old age home. The Christmas parcels were handed to the individual pensioners and they were enormously grateful. We left there in silence as I suspected some throats and voices were emotionally choked up and unavailable after their first contact with the old folk……
We then went off to the Zimra offices in Masvingo to meet with an official that has been most helpful for Hannes, in arranging all our complicated paperwork. We arranged with him, a delivery of some much-needed books to the Masvingo municipal library. A worthwhile donation to show our gratitude for the great co operation from this office.
We headed for the home of Gerhard and Trudi Burger who have been a great help to us in the past few years. As usual Harry Wardley and Johnny Nel were waiting there with their own private vehicle to do all the local deliveries in Masvingo. The boys went of on the bakkie to Pioneer cottages where they interacted with some of the Pensioners. Gerhard and his team offered to do all the “private” deliveries for us, the following day. We had a quiet evening with the ever generous Burgers, who, once again, fed us and treated us to great evening meal, bed and a hearty breakfast on Thursday before we left for Chivu.
We delivered some food parcels to Piet de Klerk, in Chivu on Thursday morning, for the last few remaining “settlers” in the area. It was off to Mutare then.
A torrential downpour didn’t stop Des Becker at Mutare from, once again, providing his vehicle and some labour to do our deliveries to Strickland Lodge, Park cottages, EHT Kitchens and Murambi. Des & Sally Bekker need another special mention. These beautiful humans have gone the extra mile for us on each visit to Mutare. Their hospitality, kindness and friendship are super special! After a dinner treat at the local Portuguese club, they put us up in their warm and friendly home. Thanks again guys.
The following mornings trip to Rusape and on to Harare was fairly uneventful, if not a bit rushed. Arriving in Harare before midday was crucial to our receiving a donation of a ton of sugar from Truck Africa. Our stop at Resthaven in Rusape needed to be brief but in the short time we had there the pensioners showed us such kindness and gratitude with a spread of tea and freshly baked scones. Utterly delicious, thanks ladies!
Once again, Jim Forrester and Patrick Scott-Martin, in Harare, very generously filled up our truck with Diesel. How do we ever thank these people for such kindness! Funds have not been rolling in for the fund and we wonder if we could still keep going without this diesel so generously given by these folk. Thanks again Jim & Patrick. It was great catching up with you, Jim, on the situation in Zim. You’re good men. Thank you!
We delivered all the Harare, Bindura, S.O.A.P and CFU parcels to Mike and Marrion Futter, who, again, undertook to do all these local deliveries for us. Many thanks again to the Futters.
I’m very grateful to my cousins, Mike and Michele Exton, who put us up in their Harare home while they were away in South Africa. Thanks so much again Cousins. We were extremely comfortable in your home despite the power outage. Thanks too to your very hospitable Jane, who fed us and made us feel so welcome.
Saturday was chaotic pleasure. We awoke with the understanding that we had a special Christmas dinner arranged in KweKwe and planned to have a leisurely drive down there. Hannes called in the morning to say that it was a lunch date, not a dinner date! We dashed the three hours to Kwe Kwe and arrived at our lunch party only 20 minutes late.
What a special party we had at the Country Club in Kwe Kwe where we were Guests of Honour! The Christmas party arranged by Ken & Beda Connelly and the local community was a blast! The boys had no idea that Zimbabweans, and the oldies in particular, could throw such a party. Dancing went on well into the night and we were very grateful again for the special hospitality that this community showed us. Thanks guys. Jis, but you can party hey!!
On Sunday morning we headed off for Bulawayo to deliver the sugar to the new warehouse there. We stopped briefly in Gweru, to show the boys where I was born, Birchenough House, all of 53 years ago. Nursing home still there but a bit worse for wear.
We arrived at the Bulawayo warehouse in the early afternoon and learnt how to scoop one ton of sugar into smaller bags using an upturned, cut off Coke bottle and an Ice cream tub! A sticky, hot, but fun filled couple of hours followed and we got the job done.
It’s not often that both trucks and crews and Hannes and Linda end up together in Bulawayo so accommodation was a bit short. The cottage at Coronation Cottages is tiny but available and a good bath was very welcome. We had an early braai in the tiny garden and retired to our, now very comfortable, truck. Another lesson was learned on this night; Bulawayo mosquitoes do not care about Peaceful Sleep or Doom. I think they just hold their little breaths and nibble away! Amour plated Mozzies these!
We left, in convoy with Attie and Joe, at about 4h00 a.m. on Monday morning. On the road back to BeitBridge we were rewarded for our trip efforts with the most spectacular sunrise we had ever seen. It was surely God exclaiming, loud and clear, “Thank you!“ from the Pensioners of Zimbabwe for all the kind donors that made this trip possible.
The crossing back in SA was uneventful and rather quick compared to the incoming debacle. We were through in about two hours.
We decided to drive all the way back to Malelane on this Monday, driven by Christmas and missing our families somewhat. We arrived back in Malelane at about midnight and slept the night in the warehouse. After the sleepless night before, we all but passed out until Tuesday morning.
We left early on Tuesday morning and arrived back in Durban in the late afternoon; exhausted but well satisfied that we had carried the kindness and generosity of all our donors to the dear and beloved oldies of Zimbabwe.
From the Durban Team, we thank, deeply and sincerely, all those who still spare a thought for the old folk in Zimbabwe. We know that there is a feeling that things are all better in Zimbabwe. The media has lain off the issue and we have clown Journalists, like Max Du Preez, writing that food production is better than ever in Zimbabwe. Well it is not! Zimbabwe will, again, import tons of food for its people this year, Mr. Du Preez, none of which reaches these old age homes. These old folk and many others have lost everything and will NEVER recover.
Please keep the hopes and dreams of these people alive, by helping us to keep our wheels turning. Thanks millions to you all. These people are enormously grateful to you. God bless Zimbabwe? Danie
A quotation from Donald Trump:- “In the end, you’re measured not by what you undertake but by what you finally accomplish.”
Below are our contact details: –
Hannes Botha (Director/driver) Tel 013 7900934 or Cell 0845893221.
Past. Attie Botha. Limpopo Co-ordinator/driver Tel 015 3098594 or 0829012291
Branie van Niekerk. Zululand Co-ordinator. Tel 035 7860903 or Cell 0845054691.
Daniel Koekemoer. Natal Co-ordinator/driver Tel 031 7641457 or Cell 0832334257.
Compiled by Pastor Attie Botha February 2011