Sometimes we are asked how long ZANE will be needed in Zimbabwe because surely the original emergency that saw the start of ZANE in 2002 is over – surely people have now ‘made a plan’ and sorted themselves out.
Here is the story of professional person – a lawyer – whose plight has recently come to our attention – what could he have done differently we wonder?
Jack* was brought up In Zimbabwe where he attended local schools and was an outstanding student finally gaining a degree in law at the University of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) in 1972.
He worked for several years as an attorney in different law firms before deciding to move to the Bar where he has practised as an advocate for many years. His work at the Bar enabled him to educate his children, maintain a reasonable standard of living and own a property.
Like everyone else living in Zimbabwe in 2008 – 2009, Jack lost all his savings and pensions when the Zimbabwe currency collapsed – he was then 60 years old.
Then disaster struck again and Jack began to suffer ill health. Slowly he became less and less able to work full time and, being an advocate at the Bar, he was self-employed so, if he couldn’t work, he was not earning.
The spiral has continued as he has become less and less mobile and in great pain but unable to get proper medical solutions through lack of funds to seek help.
His family do not have the means to fully support him and now he is trying to sell his house in order to survive. In desperation he has turned to former colleagues and friends for support and they have approached ZANE.
So, when should he have ‘made a plan’? Ignoring for a moment his health problems, all his qualifications and experience relate to the Roman Dutch law practised in Zimbabwe – to move to another country would require not only the funds to obtain a visa and get there, but also to re-qualify in a different legal system and then find work.
The chances of getting work at the age of 68 anywhere outside Zimbabwe would be pretty much zero. To carry on surviving in Zimbabwe is getting more difficult every day as the situation in the country continues to deteriorate.
Should we say to people like Jack ‘you should have made a plan, you should have seen this coming’ and turn our backs? Or should we choose the path of compassion and get alongside him – to reach out and help?
Sometimes it can feel as if we are chipping away at a mountain with a toothpick but I say ‘let’s keep chipping’ and if you want to help too, join the ZANE family and together we will make a difference for Jack and countless others like him.
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* Names and images have been changed on grounds of security.