Here we are again at the end of another year. How time flies. It seems like just last week that I was reading through the overview for 2009.
Going back through the overall report on 2009 I noted that we did a whole lot of expansion of our calling in that we added no less than six more homes representing and addition of around 200 more folk and increasing our overall costs by at least 30%.
The global economic meltdown had started and we were also feeling the pinch. In spite of this we had some real good support from our regular donors and others who heard our appeals for various items we were in desperate need of. Amongst these were the supply of two large filled propane gas bottles supplied by Phil Kriek of Malelane to be donated to the newly revamped kitchen at Verity Amm in Bulawayo, the supply of 3 urgently needed batteries for our trucks by Bobby Rowe of Motolek in Nelspruit, Boxer Superstores for their continued support throughout the year and the supply of goods for 500 hampers, Darling Romery who once again not only supplied 300 hampers, but delivered them to us from Darling in the Western Cape, and minced venison was supplied by a Zimbabwe farmer for the kitchens. We do not forget the many other things that we have received from all of you that are needed to help keep the pensioners supplied with the many things other than food to show them that someone actually cares about them. Thank you to all of you guys who supplied diesel for the trucks, both here and in Zimbabwe, sincere appreciation and thank you comes to all of you.
Our first trip in February was started on the 3rd and the two trucks proceeded around the country with Hannes doing the Bulawayo trip and Boet Holmes and I doing the Harare trip. The writing was on the wall for an eventful year. Before even crossing the border, Hannes's spectacles fell and a lens was broken. Now, he can't see too well without them and I was doubtful he could continue on the trip. As I said in the Feb report, "Cowboys don't cry, they see the world in multi- focus. Unperturbed we set off to complete the trip. At the end of this trip I spoke to Hannes and emphatically told him the UD 80 could not do another trip on our existing tyres, the steel was beginning to show on two of them and the others were slicks.
On the April trip we set off as usual with the exception that the UD 80 was shod with a full set of new tyres donated by Mr Rohan van den Berg. The fitting of the "TAG" axle to the UD 90 increasing it's loading capacity from 10 to over 16 tons late last year was a good move as it got rid of the trailer that so often let us down.
Hannes was accompanied by Jozua Serfontein, a dear friend and long time donor, an octogenarian from the Cape. He, that is Dr Jozua Serfontein, gave me a short report on his experience on the trip which I have translated and included the necessary bits herein. Quote. "I have been a supporter for some time now and found that I needed to go see for myself. Well, I arrived in Malelane in a rainstorm and got to the warehouse which was a hive of activity as the people, a handful at that, were scurrying around sorting, packing, labelling and checking that every person on the list got exactly what was needed and none was left out. It is an amazing operation and the dedication to detail is something to behold. We set sail for the border and the crossing was complicated to me, but considered easy by the team who handled reams of paperwork and enquiring officials with grace to say the least. Travelling around the country from town to town and visiting with the older ones in old age homes as well as some in their own homes became a challenge. The need of these people cannot be described here. The gratitude given to us is also beyond my eloquence. The interaction with caring fellow human beings often outweighs the gift of food and I now have a new perspective of the work done by the people of the Zimbabwe Pensioners Fund. I would encourage all to do as I did. Go and experience the unknown, unspoken and live a needy Zimbabwe pensioners dream as he or she takes in the warmth of a hearty hug from a sincere friend. I am currently in recovery mode but will do the trip again. It is a life and values changing experience!! Unquote.
Sadly to say our dear friend passed away in November, but as he said to me once, "If we cannot look out for others, don't expect others to look out for you. You folk are reaching others and leaving a legacy." To tannie Serf, "He was a good man and his memory lives on in us, God Bless you".
Bob Daniels, a driver and our warehouse chief also left us at the beginning of the year due to failing health. We wish him well. Thank you for your passion and all you did for this cause, it is much appreciated.
In May we were also blessed with a huge donation of Coffee products and shampoo/ Conditioner from Uni-Lever SA. It is wonderful to note how God comes through at exactly the right time. Coffee and shampoo became too expensive to continue. We were given tons of it all. Last year we were going to drop the supply of toilet paper, we were then donated thousands of rolls of the very best.
This was also to be the last trip that our dear friend and co-driver, Norman Nimmo would travel the "Samaritans Road" with us. He was tragically killed in a motor accident on the 3rd of May and his passing has left a huge hole in our operation. He was settling into the team after being a volunteer for many years. Suddenly we were left scrambling for dedicated drivers. With the economy gripping us all, Daniel Koekemoer had to re arrange his life and for some time was unable to help out driving. That left Hannes and I. I had a knee operation in March and was largely incapacitated, on crutches and all for many months.
June, in spite of the crutches, the food parcels needed to be delivered and Hannes did the Bulawayo trip again travelling solo, while Boet Holmes and I did the long one. Boet Holmes saw the predicament and started studying for his Heavy vehicle learners licence and Les Brits from Mandini in Natal made himself available to drive on the August trip. Currently all drivers with the exception of Hannes are over 60, and we pedal as hard as we can. Well, all that pedalling didn't do Hannes much good and on the 22nd of July he was hospitalised and given a new lease of life by getting a triple heart by-pass. He is well on his way to a full recovery and will assume normal driving duties from April this year. As someone recently said to me, "You guys must be alert, the tree feller is busy in your forest!"
Les has done two trips now, as he drove the August Bulawayo run accompanied by Boet and followed by me. As he did not know the route or drill, we travelled together as far as Gweru, left the UD80 there and then he and Boet joined me for the long trip. Les should soon be able to run the short trip driving with a salted assistant. "Two more comfy trips are all you are going to get Les"! He is a "Suid Wester", totally unfamiliar with the country but as eager and passionate as a Jack Russell. Good news is that Boet Holmes saw the need for drivers and has since also acquired his Truck's Learners Licence, and trusts to soon have the real thing. Go for it Boet!!
It was also this year that we decided to change our clearing agents on the Zim side as we were feeling that they were not being helpful enough. We switched to Acdum and things do seem to have improved somewhat. In October Kendel and Dave Jansen organised a Thornhill High School re-union in Pretoria. It was well attended and the proceeds were for the ZPSF. Many thanks to you for the great & awesome effort!!
During November we were given a large amount of paint by Mr Frans Prinsloo of P & L Hardware in Louis Trichardt, to give some of the homes that are in desperate need of a coat of paint. We cannot use the funds for food to buy paint, while there is a desperate need for paint, God then sends the supplier with abundance!!
Our October trip was delayed for almost a month by inconsistencies from the Zimbabwe side and we eventually got off on the 1st of November, 24 days after our planned departure and 21 days before the next departure date of the 6th December. It is often quite unbelievable to what degree some will go to create extortion. Thank the Lord we do not entertain them, our Fund pays for food, not bribes.
On our December trip Daniel was thankfully available and he and his wife and daughter did the short trip and Boet and I the long one. We took up the normal food hampers and a nice Christmas gift for every person on our lists, thank you to ALL of you who gave, whether financially or helped to pack the gifts.
So, in spite of the hunter in our forest, we have had a blessed year in which we could once again be able, with your support, to see to the welfare of our pensioners in the old age homes in Zimbabwe.
In total we covered more than 45,000 kms, using 14,400 litres of fuel, transported food and sustenance to the value of about R960, 000.00 to an average of 1,760 people on six trips this year.
Other running costs for permits, cross border documentation, presentations, sourcing and collecting supplies, subsistence and travelling costs for the drivers both in South Africa and Zimbabwe comes to around R3500.00 per month. This is a huge amount and thanks to you, our loyal and faithful supporters, we have been able to keep up the good work. So, once again may I humbly congratulate you on your valiant efforts to see the needs of the oldies not only met, but their faces lit up with unspeakable joy as they receive that which you all have made possible for them.
An urgent appeal is going out early in this new year, for a donation of three tyres, for the UD 90 and a windscreen for the UD 80. Our windscreen was damaged on the August trip and we need to replace it before the end of May when the truck goes for it's annual test.
We, the stewards of your donations and gifts, want to assure you that as we go into 2011 bearing the torch of hope for many in hopeless situations, will continue to do so with the integrity expected of us. We do indeed wish every one of you a very prosperous and fruitful year and encourage you to take 2011 and run with it, make it work for you.
Thank you to all our hosts & hostesses here in South Africa and Zimbabwe who always have a bed and a plate of food for us when we need accommodation...Bless you guys.
We pray God's richest blessings on you all, your families and your businesses. We also ask of you to please continue praying for us as individuals and the Fund in general. Without God's Blessing we will fail and failure is not an option.
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.
Linda Schultz (Admin & Fund Raising)
Tel 013 7900934 or Cell 079 6082676.
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
Linda Botha has not set their biography yet