Tribute to Helen - Facing Poverty in Zimbabwe With Courage

Tribute to Helen – Facing Poverty in Zimbabwe With Courage

Helen* has just died.

Seven or eight years ago we used an advertisement with part of the letter she had written to raise money for ZANE.

Helen wanted to thank us for the assistance we had given to her and her husband after they had been rendered destitute by the land grabs.

An orphan from Durban, Helen met her husband just after WW2.

They had managed to save a little money, borrowed more and bought some rough land. They spent their working lives carving a farm from the wilderness.

Life had been immensely hard.

There was no electric light or running water. She had bathed her children in a large copper pan in front of the fire but they were happy enough and just about scraped a living.

Then came the farm invasions and they – and the farm workers – lost everything they had spent their lives building.

Helen’s husband died of a broken heart about ten years ago and now Helen has died.

Sometimes when I was in Bulawayo I would visit her where she was living with her daughter. Once she gave me a woolen loo seat cover she had knitted just for me.

There were 4,000 others like Helen.

To me Helen’s tragic story makes the work we have been doing worthwhile. It’s a tribute to the brave work of our wonderful ZANE workers.

RIP Helen


Dear Mr Benyon,

I have been writing to you for over three years, in my mind, in my heart and on paper. I truly thank God for the work and love you have for the elderly here in Zimbabwe. How can I express my true appreciation on paper to you.

I was standing in Kwik Spar with my daughter and behind me was an elderly man, he had 4 pork sausages in his hand and he said to me “this is my meal for the week. I cut these sausages in half, ½ for Monday another ½ for Tuesday and so”.

I came away so distressed that day.

The mans face was continually before me for months, every time we go to Kwik Spar we look for him so that I can give him some rusks that I sometimes bake if the arthritis allows me to knead.

I have not seen him in months and I wonder if he has died. I hope a child came to fetch him.

I often wonder how he is.

Mr Benyon, thank you, I salute you for your help and your workers great love for us elderly people here in Zimbabwe.

As I said a letter such as this will only bring problems if opened in the mail and I believe this will be given to you by hand.

God Bless you and Goodbye as you leave our precious Zimbabwe to go back to the UK with our many thanks to all.


* Names and images have been changed for security reasons.

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