|Zimbabwe economic crisis cripples mission
Children attend school at the Old
Mutare Mission operated by The United Methodist Church
in Zimbabwe. The country's economic crisis is causing
severe hardships at the mission, which includes a
hospital, children's home and church.
UMNS photos by
By Kami Rice*
Jan. 10, 2008
| MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)
The sewage system is overloaded, buildings are decaying,
electricity is unreliable, and economic turmoil in Zimbabwe
make operating two schools, a hospital, a children’s home and
church nearly impossible.
Yet Old Mutare Mission, a ministry of The United Methodist
Church for 110 years, is determined to continue its ministry
to the people of Zimbabwe, its leaders say.
"Our sewage system is so overloaded that ZINWA (Zimbabwe
National Water Authority) is now giving a fine to the mission
every quarter," said the Rev. Solomon Mudonhi, mission
chairman. "We are trying to do what we can, but it’s
challenging in the current economic situation."
the road from United Methodist-related Africa University, the
mission is supported primarily by student fees from its
1,000-student primary school and 1,050-student high school.
However, the school fees are now set by the Zimbabwe
government, so the mission is no longer able to charge
realistic amounts to satisfy its budget.
"Once we touch the
ground, we will bounce back," says the Rev. Solomon
Mudonhi, chairman of the mission
The schools operate farms that provide milk, eggs,
vegetables and pork, but other commodities are scarce and
expensive. The school has broken ground for homes for
additional teachers, but the buildings can’t progress because
the school can’t get cement.
Electricity is also undependable, making it difficult for
boarding students to study at night. Five former students
donated a generator to help, but it’s difficult to get fuel to
Although the schools are run by The United Methodist
Church, all of the teachers are civil servants paid by the
government. Salaries have not kept pace with prices. For
example, the government housing allowance is Z$800,000 per
month, but a decent accommodation in Mutare costs Z$20 million
each month––more than a teacher’s annual salary.
Teachers and staff members are basically donating their
services and must supplement their salaries. One teacher makes
cakes to sell during the staff tea time. Other teachers are
resigning and moving to places like South Africa where the pay
is better and the economy is more stable.
In spite of the difficulties, school staff members are
friendly and kind to visitors. School children smile and
"Zimbabweans are very prayerful," said Mudonhi. "They are
Christians so it appears they get their perseverance from God.
If this had happened somewhere else, there would have been
riots and war."
Low-cost hospital fees
While the needs for health services are great, many people
served by the Old Mutare Hospital are either unemployed or
low-paid farm workers.
"We are not able to charge fees that are high and help
offset our expenses," said Mudonhi. "Some patients aren’t able
to pay at all, but the hospital won’t deny them treatment."
The number of
patients treated in the 70-bed hospital’s four sections—a
dental clinic, outpatient and inpatient treatment, a maternity
ward and a voluntary counseling and testing unit––continues to
grow, so the hospital needs more nurses and personnel. It now
has one doctor and 12 nurses, 25 nurse aids and 10 support
Mission buildings show signs of decay,
and there is no money for
In order to attract more nurses, the hospital needs to
build more housing, which it’s unable to afford now. Nurses
have joined teachers in seeking higher salaries outside
Mudonhi expressed appreciation for United Methodist
Volunteers in Mission teams. A team from South Carolina pooled
their money to help paint hospital walls and purchase new
mattresses, and a South Carolina congregation is supporting a
"We are struggling, but we are making it through, and we
are surviving," said Mudonhi. "We are dealing with necessities
only." He pointed to the cracks in his office wall and
explained that fixing them is now a luxury. Then he asked, "So
where are we heading to? People are bleeding inside, but
outside it appears things are going on well."
Asked if he has hope, Mudonhi bounced a soccer ball on the
cement floor and said, "This is what gives me hope. Once we
touch the ground, we will bounce back. I don’t know how,
Mudonhi said the mission needs help with the following
- General Mission––Infrastructure and building expansion
and repairs, sewage system improvements, laptop computer;
- Hartzell Central Primary School––Computers, woodworking
tools, scholarships for children of local farm workers
unable to pay school fees;
- Hartzell High School––Math and science teachers are
needed, along with housing for teachers;
- Fairfield Children’s Home––A vocational training center
to provide training for "graduates" of the home who don’t
qualify for college;
- Old Mutare Hospital––Accommodations for additional
staff, revitalization of the existing hospital, an ambulance
and an outreach vehicle, office equipment, hospital
equipment, medical supplies.
Donations to the mission can be placed in local church
offering plates or sent directly to the Advance at P.O. Box
9068, GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068. Designate checks for
Global Hospital Revitalization: Advance #982168 and specify
“Old Mutare.” Donations also can be sent to Old Mutare Mission
Hospital, Ambulance, Advance #13860S-Africa, Zimbabwe; the Old
Mutare Mission Hospital, Autoclave (sterilization) Machine,
Advance #13861O-Africa, Zimbabwe; and the Babyfold at Old
Mutare Hospital, Advance #11713T-Africa, Zimbabwe, Mutare.
Credit card donations can be made by calling (888) 252-6174.
More information about The Advance for Christ and His Church
and how to give is available at http://new.gbgm-umc.org/about/advance/.
Contact Mudonhi by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Rice is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615)
742-5470 or email@example.com.
Woman to bring Zimbabwe aid
In tight economy, Africa University acts to keep
Communications agency pledges bed nets for Mutare
United Methodist Church makes difference in rural