NEWS FROM ST. JOHN’S MISSION, ZIMBABWE, AS AT OCTOBER 2009

Dear Friends,

Introduction


I would first of all like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have helped me through the charity Zimbabwe Help over the last 12 months. Some have helped with fund raising and some have helped by their own donations.

Initially this project was set up mainly to help with the construction of a large irrigation dam at Chunga, a remote rural area in western Zimbabwe, near the border with Zambia. It is situated about 100 Km downstream of Victoria Falls, not far from the great river Zambezi, which divides the two countries.

I run a rural mission, covering an area of about 5,000 square Kilometres. The density of population is, however, very low, being only around 16,000, of which 2,500 are Catholics. The low density is caused both by poor soil and low rainfall. The people are classified as subsistence farmers, and so are generally very poor.

I am a diocesan priest, coming originally from Liverpool, England, but I studied in Ireland for the priesthood. I was ordained in 1983 for the diocese that I work in.

Being of an engineering background before I went to the seminary I soon found myself building churches for the mission and the 24 outstations, since there was no infrastructure when I arrived. But by around 1990 the government was no longer able to construct or maintain schools or water facilities. Hence I soon found myself doing this work myself.

Progress of existing projects

Irrigation dam at Chunga;
The main project is the irrigation dam at Chunga. This has now been under construction for over two years. It is currently about 60 metres wide and stands about 5,2 metres above the riverbed. When finished it should stand another 1,8 metres higher or 3 more levels. Last year I put more builders on to the project. At the current rate of progress the wall should be completed sometime in 2010. After that we hope to make a start on the irrigation scheme.

Chakupaleza Rural
This dam is now about 4,2 metres high, and was completed earlier this year.

Nkandebwe
This dam is now about 1,8 metres high, with 3 more metres to go, and we hope to complete it in about a year’s time.

Katete
This dam is in an advanced state, and is about 3,6 metres high. It just has another 1,2 metres to go, so it should be finished during 2010.

Chakupaleza Church
This dam is being built near the church there, hence the name. At the church we have a pre-school also, so the children benefit from this dam, as well as the local community. It is very close to completion, and should be completed by the end of 2009. It holds the water very well, and has already proved to be one of the most successful dams to date.


The Future

The need to finish the existing projects;

Apart from the irrigation dam two of the smaller dams are still under construction.

We need a 7-ton truck;-

I am hoping the donors won't get tired! There is so much need for development in the area. Last year you helped me to buy a 2,5 ton second hand truck and a new 1-ton truck. We are now in need of a newer big truck, with a capacity of 7 tons. Some well-wishers in England are trying to fund a second hand vehicle, but it seems they will not be able to afford the transport costs to get it to Zimbabwe. I am hoping to get some thing like a Nissan UD. At present our truck is a 6-tonner, and is 16 years old, with about 400,000 Km on the clock. It has done a great service for us, but it is in constant use, and needs a lot of maintenance and repairs with our gravel roads. I employ mechanics and apprentices, but they are always on the go these days. At least it gives good experience for the apprentices!

Local boreholes need repair
There are a number of boreholes in the area. These are hand operated, and reach a depth of up to 70 or 80 metres. Over the years one by one they have stopped functioning. The government used to maintain them, but they are now unable to. This resulted in the women and children having to walk for some hours each day to fetch water. About 3 years ago I began repairing them, but I have recently had to stop due to lack of finances. It costs on average about €1,000 to repair each one. We have attached a photo of one, near Chunga, which was the last one that we were able to repair.

May God bless you all,
Fr. Tim Peacock,
St. John's Mission, PO Box 39, Hwange, Zimbabwe