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Standard Bank Makhado. Branch Code: 052549 Account Number: 331663058 European Account: Christiane van Heerden Postbank München Kto 75298801 BLZ 70010080

You can help save lives!

Young single mom and her 11 month old child

Hallo And a Happy New Year to all Friends and Family worldwide,
we are bringing heartfelt greetings from South Africa and a mega „Thank You“ for all your generous giving for the refugee crisis at the Zimbabwean border.

It’s my pleasure telling you a little about what we’ve been up to the last days. It was something all girls like – We’ve gone shopping. Andries would have rather gone fishing I guess, but he decided that the people stranded without food and hope need our help!

We drove 80 km north to Musina, the last southafrican town before Zimbabwe. Due to the Zimbabwean crisis, there is a huge shortage of food and medical care in the country. It’s virtually impossible for the average citicen to purchase just a loaf of bread. Most Zimbabweans are out of their jobs, and the corrupt military is roaming the towns and villages, burning down houses and robbing people of their last possessions, leaving people desolate, wounded and angry. Daily hundreds of desperate Zimbabweans migrate illegally over the border rivers to seek Asylum in South Africa.

Our first priority is to organize the relief aid in ways that are both effective and in co-operation with the legal procedures and local authorities. We met with south African charity experts to discuss ways of providing for the real needs of the people. Its important to establish the identities of the refugees, since not everybody comes with documents.
Especially the orphaned children don’t have any certificates with them – so a photo, fingerprints and a file in which we document their life story is all we have to keep track of the children and to apply for Asylum.
The south African government does not officially recognize the fact that there is a refugee problem, so international help organizations are limited in what help they may offer.
So with the all the necessary information we arrived in Musina. We found the town overcrowded with both refugees and Zimbabweans coming there for their grocery shopping. The local Southafricans become more and more distressed about this and prefer to come to Louis Trichardt for shopping. Street vendors and children trying to make the odd buck complete the feeling of being definitely in the middle of “Africa”.

Our local southafrican police put up street blockades everywhere to catch the immigrants. When you are caught with illigal zimbabweans, it’s a 25.000 Rand (2500 Euro) fine per person on the spot. this is done in an attempt to curb the unregistered employment of cheap Zimbabwean labour but it makes it difficult to help real refugees in need. Take someone in and you are doing an illegal thing. Asylum seekers are allowed to find refuge on church premises, though. Police will not bother them there. That is also the reason why a local southafrican pastor in Musina is able to provide for about 700 people daily on his church grounds.

Offloading the so much needed aid

Pastor Sithole, who made his church premises available, and Pastor Foster, who oversees the administration part and maintains favour with the local southafrican authorities, hired a Bakkie (small pick up) to come and fetch the goods.

Shopping for staple foods

First of all we scan about 5 local supermarkets for the best prices on foods. the African staple food is a solid maize porridge, called “pap” by the locals, Zimbabweans call it „Sidzwe“. Soy and bean sosse are added for protein, a tomato-and onion-relish provides vitamins. Cooked cabbage completes the nutritios meal served daily. We are buying several 80kg bags of maize meal, tomato relishes, dried beans, cooking oil, cabbage and books and pens for the administration.

When we arrived at the church property (nothing like our classic churches with parks and gardens but some corrugated iron sheds on plain african earth inmidst poor housing areas) a big crowd was already waiting. About 150 men are standing around, some fighting, some staring into the air in front of them. Some are already cooking some pots on woodfires. Women and children are hiding in pathetic little shacks and in the shades of small little trees. The camp is strictly separating men and women, because violence against women poses a big problem.

The food is being offloaded by eager helpers and the refugees begin to cook the rations for several hundred hungry people.

Lots of volunteers are there to cut cabbage, and the cooks are happy to begin to cook pap in big cast iron pots over the open fire – africa style.

A recently orphaned boy, whose mom died from Cholera and whose dad was killed in a road accident, comes to ask if we didn’t bring him any presents, after all it’s just been Christmas.
I am sorry that i havent thought about special presents for children, but food seems to be the main need right now. We are going to see a refugee family later that afternoon in Louis Trichardt who took in abused orphaned girls, I’m making a mental note to be sure to bring some goodies along.

Volunteers preparing the food we provide for

Women and young girls are waiting shyly in and around the little sheds for the food to be served.

This is the church called: I believe in Jesus

Thanks to your donations these people can praise God for their daily meal. Many are close to loosing hope, it’s wonderful if we can provide at least a life-line! The local pastor has a special agreement with the police, that everybody seeking shelter at his church grounds will be left alone by the authorities and is safe from deporting as long as they stay in the church. But it’s definately not your usual church building … only the pulpit resembles church like we know it. The tubs in the right hand corner of the picture are filled with ready prepared “pap” waiting to be dished out.

We choose some young educated christian volunteers how to keep track of all the people eating here. WE provide books and pens so they can write down the names and backgrounds for everyone seeking refuge – many people don’t have the proper papers and passports.

In the meantime I am looking at the accomodation of the women and children and talk to them about their experiences on their journey to South Africa. There are thrice as much men then women among the refugees – many women don’t survive the traumatic circumstances on the way. The once arriving in the camp speak about military raiding their home towns, destroying their houses and beating their families. On the showgrounds in Musina the “Doctors without borders“ put up their tents and tend to the sick and injured. Every woman and girl is given an HIV –test and, if indicated, receives free anti-viral medication.

There are many abortions being performed on victums of rape. A lot of the patients are little girl, I met some girls under the age of 10 who actually fell pregnant as a result of violation. They would not survive giving birth. Many women are very ashamed of what happened to them and the guys we talk to are very quick to point out that all the babies born to the refugee women were fathered by either husbands or boyfriends. We are thankful that Doctors without borders are there to look after the medical needs of the people, but food, shelter and counselling are of course not provided. It is up to us to have mercy on the least of our brothers, and serve God by helping where there is no other hope.

There are often 20 or more people sleeping per small shed, their only possession being the few things they could carry from their homes. We are meeting some very educated people amongst the refugees who used to own nice places and held good jobs. Many are living as long as 2 month on the camp grounds already.

In the meantime long ques formed in front of the “canteen” window – women to the right, men to the left.

But it’s really hard to live on one warm plate of food a day.
Without it, most of the people would have no food at all to eat.

We hope that we can cultivate some grounds in a village nearby to farm maize, veggies and potatoes to provide a bit of work for the young guys who are spending their days waiting for the food handouts, and to create an independent source of fresh produce.

Volunteers prepare the daily rations Millie pap,

Millie pap, bean-and soy sauce and boiled cabbage. Andries had a taste – mmh, very yummy!

Men wait on one side, women on the other – finally the food was ready to be served!
After 4 hours in the hot sunshine of Musina (where it’s generally 10 °C warmer than in Louis Trichard) my baby and me are definately cooked through. But most of the refugees have no alternative to spending their days in the sun whereas we will be driving home in an airconditioned car.
Thanks a lot to all of you who are generously giving funds to help this need. Everybody is so happy about their meal.
And everybody who ate is being recorded on a list.

This young lady Sarah is saying a big thank you

to her Christian brothers and sisters for her delicious New Year meal. “ It is giving me hope to know that people do care about what is happening to us in Zimbabwe. I am all alone with my baby and staying at the camp for almost 3 month now. I don’t know where I can go. My home has been destroyed. Thank you for not forgetting about me!“ The donations we received so far can take care of the refugees for another month. In our local church we are collecting clothing especially for the young children who outgrow their clothes so fast.

For about 200 Euros provide for 200 people basic food for a week plus provide clean (boiled) drinking water. Including fuel and admin costs it takes us currently about 1 € per week per head to save a person from starving and keeping him safe.
Andries asked the refugees what else their people might need. Giving them something else to do except waiting is one of the major issues as too many are loosing hope.

Thankful for the food!

Back in Louis Trichardt,
we are visiting Gladstone and Julian Dzukuzo. Julian is a former nurse from Zimbabwe who, together with her husband Gladstone, is daily feeding about 100 refugees at a local car repair shop where they rent a little round hut and a small two-room dwelling without ablution facilities. They are taking in orphaned Zimbabwean girls, looking after them and home schooling them since the children can’t enrol in the local schools without papers. Friends from the church gave them a little Christmas tree and an electric stove, in the hut next door there is a gas stove where, similar to Musina, daily rations are cooked for the refugees. Most of the adults are spending their days hiding in the bushes around town or getting into trouble- it’s a bit of a problem. For New Years Eve, Millie pap and tomato sauce is really not festive enough and so we got them some more goodies as well. Kids are always happy tp get some ice-cream and biscuits, peanut butter and jam provide some extra energy and juice concentrates last longer in a home without a fridge.

We are looking for people who will sponsor Mama Julian on a regular basis. She is taking care of the girls out of her own initiative just because she loves the Lord Jesus.

A pastor, a train driver, a lawyer – now poor and out of jobs, their former homes all lost to chaos. Still they got the heart and energy to care for their fellow refugees and not letting hope for a better tomorrow die.

In the galery below you can see the kitchen where they cook daily rations for over 100 people.
The legs of the stove are put into cans filled with water so the ants can’t crawl into the pots!

The food we where able to provide with 300 Euros given from German Christians, helps to sustain 100 people including HIV-positive and orphaned children. In a weeks time we will be checking in again, seeing what else will be needed. In the long run, we are hoping to set up some houses of safety for young children in need of shelter, and employ Christian couples to look after them and help them work through the trauma they have experienced.

Thanks and God Bless you to all our friends world wide!

bEmmanuel Church Louis Trichardt
A Non Profit Organization
NPO-Registration Number061-730-NPO
A Public Beneficiary Organization
PBO – Registration Number