The year 2008 was the year that ushered in a new dispensation for the Zimbabwe Pensioners Supporters Fund. We started to realize the dream of expanding the network of our goals and our purpose in all areas.
Mr Norman Nimmo, one of the men who caught the vision, put his shoulder to the wheel and drove his first solo trip with both truck and trailer for the full round trip in early January. At this point I want to include an excerpt from one of the pensioners from his trip report.
Inflation at that stage was 14000%. “Yesterday was Monday and a very blue one at that as we are in our third day without electricity and water and were all down in the dumps when a little whisper started. Mavis came around and told us that Norman Nimmo and crew were on their way with the truck. What wonderful therapy, it got us all going, tidying up and getting finished with lunch. I felt like running up to the truck and cheering but decided that it was rather unseemly for an old bird of 76 to run around like a 17 year old, but heck, I felt like one! If it were not for those” angels” we would surely starve. I am deeply touched and thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
The February trip was done by me and I was accompanied by Mr Tiny de Klerk from Levubu. It was his first trip and he came back a changed man having seen first hand what the circumstances were that we report on each trip. His tearful words were, “ If I did not see it with my own eyes I would not believe it.” We again came across many needy people that we added to the growing list and left many homes humbled by the good wishes and thankfulness of the people. There is nothing so touching as when a little lady knocks on your door as you are ready to depart and she hands you a few “sarmies” for the road ahead. The gratefulness of the folk cannot be measured in words, and don’t think of turning the offer down. As much as they battle to survive, you are first in their eyes.
Whispers of a donation of a truck excited us and we were filled with hope as our little Dyna was showing signs of tiredness. It was also in February we were given the use of a large warehouse facility in Tzaneen by a farmer in the area, Mr François Foster.
This trip had Hannes at the helm accompanied by a team from Richards Bay and they knew the importance of the trip as Zim elections were due at the end of the month and we did not know how things would develop. Surprisingly the border crossing was quiet and the trip quite uneventful as all were presumably busy with electioneering. The situation has really deteriorated and we found a lack of water, electricity and a spin off from that, toilet facilities, very few and far between. Picture yourself on the loo busy with the worst and then looking up to see a sign; “Use the bucket provided for all paper etc excluding Zim dollars, in order to save water,
Flush only when necessary.” The cost of living was spiraling out of control, Hannes bought a few tomatoes at the roadside for $25000:00 so we could have a sandwich or two for lunch.
The next day we delivered at Pioneer Trust in Masvingo and one of the ladies blessed us with freshly baked muffins. We are so spoilt on these trips. It was only after three days travel that we could finally get proper ablutions in Gweru and take a much needed shower, wash hair and feel good and clean and fresh. We finished this trip a few days before the elections so all had a good supply in case things went wrong.
Due to the complications of the elections we did not do a trip but did much needed maintenance to the truck and trailer and some aggressive marketing around the country.
It was also in April that we finally got registered as a Non Profit Organisation and started the long road of getting the past sorted out. As you all know, this venture was started out of Hannes’s pocket seven years ago while he still held down a nine to five job. Over the years, with your help it has grown to this wonderful vehicle that directly and indirectly serve more than a thousand pensioners to date. It has come with many teething problems and growing pains but we do thank you for believing in us and the work we do.
Our May trip was done by myself in the company of Graham Kloke who was again a first timer and an ex Zimbabwe chap. We were now serving at least 100 more folk than in January and the need for the next truck was really being felt. Old faithful was creaking on all her joints. We were also becoming unpopular at the weigh bridges.
Inflation had now reached 300,000% and was rapidly going for 400,000% and in fact reached that before we got back to SA. A pensioner and skilled worker earned Zim$. 4 billion and 10kg maize meal or bread flour was selling at Zim$. 4,200,000,000:00 and fresh milk at Zim$. 1,500,000,000:00 per liter. At Zim$ 25,000,000:00 a box, matches were more expensive than a candle at Zim$ 14,000,000:00 each. Folks, there is no hope for our legacy builders at this rate.
We also noticed that many folk needed chronic medication and as even your run of the mill pain killers were not available we started looking for a way to address this need. It was on this trip that a gent came up to me, asked how to get on the system and after explaining when I hugged him, he wept saying he cannot remember the last time anyone hugged him, encouraged him and even suggested he was useful, wanted and loved. Some of these folk have been dumped and abandoned by their children and families.
It was also in May that I threw all my weight behind Hannes and this great ministry of serving the old folk in Zimbabwe. Up to this stage I helped out where possible.
This trip was also undertaken by me in the company of a great team of pioneers from Empangeni and Richards Bay. Branie van Niekerk, who now heads up the Zululand office, Marina van den Heever who is on holiday in New Zealand and was holding the Zululand reins, Liz Beckett, a nursing sister and Julia Conradie from Hluhluwe also in Zululand. This was a fearless group who took to the task as a duck to water and came out emotionally bruised but not broken. They experienced many heartaches and pain as they witnessed the “DIRE” need of certain individuals. We spent much time in prayer for restoration of our spirits so we could face the next day strong again.
In Kadoma we attended a young man’s 21st and had a great night. The cake was 240mm square, 65mm thick choc/vanilla mix iced with chocolate and on it proudly stood a lone household candle. One of his most treasured gifts was 20 litres of Petrol. Man can these people improvise or what. Long forgotten is the need for “bling” and material goods. That night, due to a mix up in sleeping arrangements, I, a pastor, spent the night in one room with those same intrepid ladies. ”
“Oh what a night.”
All over the country we again witnessed the rapid decline as more and more towns only have a limited supply of lights and water and when you have the one the other is off. You just cannot plan as interruptions are not announced or regular. Money is worthless and food is scarce.
In Sherugwe we found folk again struggling on their 3rd day without food. We could help thanks to you, our kind donors. At one of the homes in Bulawayo the ladies found a couple sitting in darkness, having had the electricity switched off, no hope of a tomorrow, sitting together waiting for the inevitable. On being given 2 food hampers they collapsed in tears of gratitude. They too are now on our list of recipients. So the numbers go up end up. It was also in June that the stirrings of news regarding the truck from the Western Cape became a little clearer creating in us a spirit of expectancy again. We were beginning to visualize the moment.
Hannes went down to the people in The Cape to collect the Nissan UD 80 refrigeration truck from our donors, Darling Roomery and Nissan. Late July, he traveled back filling the truck en route to the point where a trailer was needed and we were donated an enclosed 2 ton trailer. This unit too was subsequently filled. Our sincere thanks once more to the people of the Cape for their generosity. We had a mammoth task reloading the 2 trucks and trailers and did our first double header, moving twice as much as before. Hannes and I were also accompanied on this trip by my dear wife Liz, Yvonne, Daniel Koekemoer, our Greater Durban coordinator’s first time, Joe Nieman and Richard Seed who came along to do a documentary followed a day later. Joining us in Bulawayo was Maron Barnard from Australia. She came to see what we were up to and went back to Australia and now does fund raising there for this very worthy cause. This was also the first trip that we could move bulk fresh veggies and we moved 4 tons of potatoes, onions, pumpkins, Hubbard squash and butternuts, and oh boy, were they gratefully accepted. On this trip we also painfully heard how folk whom we had not known of, budget carefully for- - - wait for it, two to three meals a week. A tin of sardines will be stretched to do a family of two, at least three meals each with putu, pumpkin leaves and onion. The same went for corned beef, and still they would greet you with a smile and a firm handshake, not whining about their situation but asking after your welfare. Real men and women of valour!!
Our second outing with the two trucks ended in disaster when the Dyna’s engine died due to the oil seals on the turbo collapsing and the engine revved to destruction. This was to be the beginning of a spell of bad fortune. However, a long time friend of Hannes’s, Jan Fritz, came to our rescue and loaned us his 4 tonner with a driver to complete the trip with. We were also able to store our little one at the depot of Rob Elliot in Beitbridge. Thank you chaps, without you we would have failed to deliver. It was while waiting for daylight that the Beitbridge thieves cut open the tarp over the trailer and stole half the load before I could treat them to some pepper spray. Hannes and I were traveling solo on this trip but were to meet up with the Mobile Clinic of Hannes Snyman and his aide Elbe Britz who came along on a mercy trip with LOTS of medicines for the needy and oh boy did their visit go down well. Many folk had not seen a doctor in years or received treatment of any kind for similar periods. Just the tender ear of someone who cares made many eyes glow with hope again.
Annette van der Merwe from the Eastern Cape drove the entire journey from her home, around Zimbabwe and back again in a little VW Golf. Now that’s commitment and dedication for you. On this trip the hitch of the bigger trailer cracked and was repaired before it could do serious damage. Our trip was successful in that we did what we set out to do. Once again we served more folk by now carrying extra hampers on each trip and working with trusted locals to help identify the needy. We also did Marondera, Mvurwi and Chinhoyi for the first time. Before we left the hampers at nearby locations for the folk to collect. This way however, we see the need first hand and can address it properly. This has also added close to a hundred more to our growing list.
This trip was done by six of us again, Hannes, Branie, Johan Blignaut from Richards Bay, Annette and Elbe traveling up with the medic VW Kombi and me.
Just outside Nelspruit out smaller 2 ton trailer unhitched itself and self destructed on the roadside. We found a helpful farmer who pulled it out of the ditch and stored it on his farm awaiting our return. Three hundred kms down the road on the Abel Erasmus pass the hitch of the large trailer cracked along the previous weld again and we needed to do en emergency repair job to get us to out warehouse in Tzaneen where later that morning we were able to get a new one from Polokwane, fit it, and continue on our journey. Once in Zimbabwe we were again confronted with cases of absolute hopelessness. You need to come along to experience it Mugabe had just removed 10 zeros from the currency changing Z$50,000,000,000:00, that’s 50 billion to Z$5:00. Bear in mind that at that stage a pensioner earned between Z$5,000,000:00 and Z$12,000,000:00. Unless you earned or had access to forex you had NOTHING.. five dollars could not even buy 10 matches and the pensioners have to live. We were greeted open armed and saw our packages put to good use, one hamper being shared with another family not yet on our list. You want to run away as you see one clinging to a loaf of bread as if it were a gold bar.
The good news is that the cops at the road blocks are beginning to recognize the trucks and in place of the normal harassment we are now thanked for the good work we are doing. Praise the Lord for that.
The year is steadily drawing to a close and we already see the time of R and R calling us. This trip Norman Nimmo, Daniel, Tiny and I are to be the bearers of good stuff for the folk. After a few hick-ups we set sail only to have the little “green riding hoods” clutch plate, fail and disintegrate just 30 kms beyond Nelspruit. Norman had to abort the trip for a week and I carried on. Daniel traveled with me to Levubu where we were joined by Tiny. Due to the paper trail not being in order we crossed 2 days late and Daniel had a serious deadline to meet which resulted in us rushing through the country. At that stage Hannes was in Zimbabwe too escorting Sean Kelly on a trip to show him what we are doing and to give him ammo to raise funds in the UK for the fund. It was also the first time we made use of Redan fuel coupons as the fridge truck only has a 200 litre fuel tank and we could not milk the Dyna with it’s 600 litres spare diesel. The pathetic state of the roads make travelling difficult and we only travel daylight hours. Since upgrading our tyres on the Dyna we have done away with blowouts etc. Again, almost ad nausea we see how the wheels are coming off that once prosperous country. I stopped on the roadside to buy a wooden model of a John Deer tractor and was quoted in US$ by a nine year old boy. The price was outrageous to say the least. On this trip we found many more to add to our growing list and visited some of the homes where they still lived. There was no food, no electricity or water. Once respected citizens were now cooking outside on open fires and washing themselves in galvanized tubs with green washing soap, not Palmolive or Lux or Dove, no, the stuff your servants wash their clothes with. We at least with your help are able to give the ones we serve good Lux or Palmolive. Our hampers were lovingly carried off along with some fresh veggies. Petrol coupons have become legal tender alongside the S.A. Rand and US$. It’s diabolical to see on street traders working the black market prices in these currencies. Oh, yes, remember our OAP’s do not earn or have any of this. They, of they are lucky get Zim Kwatcha’s as they call their money, reminiscent of the collapse of the Zambian currency 15 to 20 years ago.
Liz accompanied me in the truck, our newly acquired “brand new” Nissan UD 90, complements to our sponsors and donors some who wish to remain anonymous. What a change to travel in aircon luxury after years of sweating it out in the hot sun, dusty and diesel fumes,
“truck stop from hell.” Special thanks to all who gave towards this project.
Going up with us were Annette from the Cape and Tiny’s fiancé, Erna de Klerk, on her first trip to serve the oldies. On this trip we handed a Christmas gift to every person along with their normal hamper. Every home and hostess also received a Lions Christmas cake, or cakes depending on the amount of frail care residents, complements of the Lions Tzaneen. Understandably, there was little Christmas spirit before we arrived but that changed as we dished out the goodies. Hannes followed a week later and had a great hassle free trip.
If you need any further details of certain monthly reports we will get them to you on request.
That’s our activities for the year. We now physically visit the following homes:
The Pioneer Complex.
The Mucheke old age home.
Here our Angel, Lulu Mc Kenzie distributes to the many outsiders.
Here Albert and Lennie Kerstein receive from us and the now scattered residents collect from them. The home was closed earlier.
Marondera. New 2008
The Borradaile Trust receive bulk for the kitchens and from time to time some residents get hampers from family or the N.G. church.
We currently supply our contacts, the Futter family with bulk tonnage which they distribute at their Discretion. They are involved with The Pension Fund and S.O.A.P.
Mvurwi. New 2008
Here we do the Malvern Trust Cottages and Kitchen.
Chinhoyi. New 2008
Here we do the cottages, Kitchen and a number of outsiders.
We also leave hampers for Karoi and at times Kariba. This new year we want to visit those homes and do personal deliveries.
We do Westview cottages and a large contingent of outsiders as far a field as Seloux and Eiffel Flats.
Here we do Lyn Brooke and a lot of outsiders. Mr Ken Connolly is our main contact here.
Redcliff. New 2008
Hubert Lee Trust is the home there, and we do all the residents as this place is not well looked after at all as far as their food and material goods are concerned.
We do two homes here, Bogies and Huis Vergesig. There is also a growing number of outsiders here looked after by Anna and Attie Scheepers.
Here M.U.U.S cottages and a hand full of outsiders get helped by us. This is one of the forgotten homes and the folk need serious help.
The home here is also not functioning well and we have Lynn D’Ewes and her hubby John that help spread our hampers around, as it’s not possible with truck and trailer. Also a rather forgotten place.
Another little home with about 18 cottages and little outside help. They are blessed enough to get fresh fruit and veg from some local farmers.
This is our three day stop over as there is so much to do.
We do Coronation Cottages, Edith Duly Home, Queen Mary home, Jacaranda home, Barbara Burrel home for the adult blind, Ralsteen house (Salvation Army) and many outsiders. We also supply S.O.A.P ( Serving old age pensioners), Barkley Block and Verity Ann Ann, a few tons for their distribution.
Truck and trailer breakages for the year.( Unplanned Expenses)
On the trailer we had a wheel bearing failure and the result was the wheel coming off in Harare. We had it Repaired back in Malelane. Minimal cost.
Had a puncture on the trailer and replaced tyre and tube on our return as we carry 2 spares each for the truck and trailer.
Another wheel bearing failure on the trailer resulting in damage to the axle which was replaced with a higher load capacity. The damaged one was repaired for less than R 600:00. The new one cost us R 2275:00 plus transport of R 600:00.
The Dyna’s engine explodes and costs about R40,000:00 to replace and install including a new clutch assembly.
The small trailer unhitches and is badly damage. The damage is covered by insurance resulting in only the excess to be paid About R200:00.
The hitch on the big trailer cracks a second time and we replace it with a new one of R2800:00.
The clutch plate on the Dyna shatters telling us we were robbed when it was replaced with the new engine in August. R12,000 for a new clutch and gearbox had to be paid again
The UD80’s cab burns out rather mysteriously but here too the damage is covered by insurance.
The damage at R122,000.
All things being considered, the average single truck and trailer load including fuel, consignment goods, border fees and drivers accommodation, meals and sustenance to be in the region of R 90,000;00 for want of a figure and we did 12 trips, R1,080,000:00 and our break downs R47,285, maintenance a further R15,000:00, making that R62,285:00, which is less than 6% of our operating cost, I think we did very well.
We made many mistakes but we will learn from them and next year we want to see that percentage drop, even with three trucks running.
Once again, to all our faithful sponsors, donors, supporters and the brave helpers who all have a special part in this ministry, be it financial support, moral support, prayer support, working until the early morning hours, packing, labeling, loading, cooking, or going along on the trips, roughing it, sleeping in, under, on top of or next to the truck. Eating many day old “Padkos” off loading, repacking, encouraging the old folk, laughing, crying and I could go on and on but hey, the joy of experiencing your input in whichever way, makes it worth it all. God Bless you all as we pray His best for you for your great passion for this ministry.
Our hosts and helpers and new found friends in Zimbabwe who give selflessly of themselves, we pray the same Blessings for you. Without ALL of YOU we would never be able to do as we are doing.
Our financial administrative documents are currently with our auditors and once this has been completed and set straight, we will present our financial statement in the media so that all can see and be confident to give to the ZPSF without fear of us mismanaging your contributions.
We trust that it will be before the end of February.
Compiled by Pastor Attie Botha. January 2009.
We can be contacted on any of the following numbers and email addresses.
Hannes Botha. (Director) Tel ,
Pst. Attie Botha. Limpopo Co-ordinator. Tel or
Daniel Koekemoer. Natal Co-ordinator. Tel or .
Branie van Niekerk. Zululand Co-ordinator. Tel .
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