Saturday, December 13, 2008

One Degree of Separation

I usually try to post cheerful stuff in this journal, and to keep it light - it's supposed to be about crafting, after all, and usually the most serious rant that goes on is about a visit from the frog. But sometimes, there are more important things in life.

There is someone I've taken courses with at the university, X. We've both volunteered for some extra curricular stuff and so, although we don't take classes together at the moment, I see her from time to time, and it's a real joy. She is the most infectiously cheerful person I know, and has a wicked sense of humour.

X and her 2 sons are refugees. She is from Zimbabwe, and her husband is involved in the MDC, so it wasn't safe for her to remain. She was so hopeful when power sharing was announced ... but we all know how the situation has gone downhill since.

I asked her yesterday how her family were doing, what with the cholera outbreak and all. The good news is that the town her parents live in is small, so has hardly been affected, and Care International have set up a clinic relatively near.

The bad news is that last Friday, her parents ran out of food for them and the 11 HIV/AIDS orphaned grandchildren and nieces/nephews they look after. The vegetables that X's 68 year old father had managed to grow on his small holding had been stolen. They had no food at all for six days, until a friend managed to smuggle some across the South African border. X herself felt unable to eat at this time - her throat closed up every time she tried.

I know that 'six degrees of separation' has become a bit of a cliche and a joke, but we are all interconnected. And I'm one degree of separation from people who are being starved to death by a brutal dictator. And that has made me so angry, and left me feeling so guilty, so helpless and yet so thankful too. If I disagree with the government here, only my blood pressure is at risk. I can turn on a tap and have as much clean water as I want. My food bill inflation is in single digits. My family is well fed, warm and safe.

I asked X what I can do to help. Sending money is useless, given the hyperinflation. Food, seeds and medications are seized if found. But clothes and books get through. X's mum is (or maybe was, given the food situation) about my size, and I have some children's books ( I wish I had kids clothes, but I don't know any families). I also have spare toiletries (and hell, I'm happy to buy more). It's not much, when what I'd really like to do is go to Zimbabwe and put a bullet into Mugabe's brain, but it will have to do. I want to shout about the situation in Zimbabwe from the rooftops - I suppose this is my first effort in that direction.

(x posted to my other journal)

1 comment:

Jean said...

I work with a nurse who is studying for her PhD and she is from Zimbabwe. She is the most wonderful person I've known and I haven't seen her this week to ask about her family. Much of the family moved away when they could. She once said that we would never understand what it was like living there and I believe her. We are so lucky to live in freedom and don't have a clue what terrors the people endure - and why?

My relatives live in Poland and during the communist rule - which wasn't that long ago, it was amazing how horrible life was. We had to send a pair of shoes separated so that they wouldnt' be confiscated at the border. there was no need for one good shoe. Many people lived in dire poverty.

I wish we could fix all the pain of all people everywhere. I know we do our best and it isn't enough at the end of the day.

I'm glad you can be of such support to your friend X and her family. You are blessed.