In 2012, our family spent a month living with a family in Mutare, Zimbabwe. The Gunhe family serve with Hands at Work and we volunteered alongside them, observing the incredible work that they oversee in two communities in Zimbabwe. One community, Sukubva, is probably one of the most challenging places I've ever worked. When we arrived in Africa, I had visions of us working in rural Africa, places I had visited before. I was unprepared for the type of poverty and difficult life that people in Sukubva were faced with.
Wedzenai and her brothers are one family who have stayed on my heart since meeting them years ago. They are beautiful, bright, well spoken kids, much the same age as my boys were upon meeting them. Wedzenai and the boys were doing homework when we arrived though they were expecting us to visit them with their care worker, Rhoda. When we walked up, they greeted Rhoda as "Mama", which surprised me because often, care workers are referred to as "Aunty" as a term of endearment. I realized though, through our visit, that Rhoda really had become their mother over the time that she had been coming to care for them. Living alone, these three kids were still grieving the recent death of their father. Their mother was gone long before he passed away, and when he died, they were left on their own to try to carry on with life. When Rhoda heard of these children, she went to visit them and helped enrol them in the newly formed community based program that Hands at Work was helping develop in Sukubva. Rhoda helped the children find suitable, safe renters for a couple of rooms in their father's home, allowing them enough income to stay on and live there. Every day the children go to school and then come to the care point to have a meal and get help with homework, play with other kids and find support from the care workers who love them. Rhoda visits them and helps them with the housework and chores that need to be taken care of. Her involvement in their life has allowed them to experience the love of a mother and to thrive in school, without the worry of day to day survival looming over them. Watching Rhoda and Wedzenai as the boys visited with Wedzenai's two brothers, I saw them talking about the plants outside of the house, just enjoying a shared interest and so comfortable with one another that had you walked by at that moment, you would believe you were watching a mother and her daughter having conversation. And in essence, that's exactly what you would have seen.
We at Connect Church have committed to an ongoing relationship with the community care workers of Sukubva, Zimbabwe. The relationship goes beyond sending money, though that is an integral part of the continuing support for 50 children to receive home visits, daily meals and access to education. We want to learn the names of the children and the care workers and integrate them and ourselves into one body of believers who serve together from both sides of the world. Over the next months, we will be sharing some of the stories of the care workers and children in Sukubva, Zimbabwe. We will be taking a team to Sukubva in October 2015 and if you would like to be part of that, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, we just offer up their stories as evidence of the beautiful things that God is doing through believers much like ourselves, that when willing to serve selflessly, impact others far further than they could ever have imagined.