Posts Tagged ‘Cathy Buckle’

I’ve just read this Christmas story on Facebook posted by Cathy Buckle who keeps the world up to date on the state of Zimbabwe – from her P.O.V.

It came from ‘Brunette on a Bicycle – Inspired tales from Zimbabwe’ and brought a lump to my throat so I am compelled to share the whole story with you and hope you understand the good people (those I remember) of Zimbabwe a little better.


QUOTE:  It’s Christmas Eve and today’s story from Zimbabwe is a message about levels of gratitude and the questions we should really be asking ourselves……

Driving home yesterday after a last minute Christmas run on the dreaded shopping mall with my two daughters I was wondering how to stretch the last remaining cash among the things that still needed to be purchased and planned for. Then we saw this man (in the picture) on the road.
Dear people of the world let me introduce you to Sole. Or is it Soul? I never asked him how to spell his name. We know him, this vagrant-looking man. He has been working on our road for the past week. This is a typical road in Zimbabwe during the rainy season when the torrential rains open up craters in the tarmac which are intermittently and un-enthusiastically repaired by the City Councils. Enter Sole and many men like him. They forage for bricks and stones, use broken buckets or torn boxes to bring sand and soil to their road of choice, prop up their sign and then work begins. The sign is always hand written and varies from “Voluntary work PLZ help” to “I am not a thief I am a worker plz support me”
They chip and fill and scratch in the dirt, they pack pieces of brick into the pothole like a jigsaw puzzle and then add stone and sand and finally pack it all down with rich red earth and begin work on the next hole. In the photo you can see the fruits of Sole’s labour in the filled pothole next to him, his pile of work material, his sustenance for the day in the Mazoe orange bottle (tap water) and the state of the road with many more holes to fill. When he first came to our road last week I stopped to chat to him, to thank him for his help and to pledge him $1 per day that I found him working there. A typical scenario for a man like this is that he might earn $5 in a day which will feed him for a week so he stops work for the week, until the money runs out. I thought my promise of $1 a day might keep him out there a little longer, in the limelight and hopefully the target of other grateful drivers charity and generosity.
After the second day he recognizes us and waves as we go past. This was Day 4. And as Sole painstakingly rebuilds my road I am grateful that each day my car can roll easy over a little bit more of it.
Yesterday as Sole came into view I slowed the car down for the usual $1 and typical Shona greeting “Maskati Sole maswera se?”
“Maskati Madam taswera” (or something like that!!!)
By now, on this Facebook page, I must come across as a “bleeding heart” woman destined to distribute her hard earned money $1 at a time but that is not the case.
The point I want to make is the wonderful positive unshakeable outlook of my country’s people. Like the post about the vendors, here we have a whole voluntary workforce of impoverished destitute people yet are they begging? No. Are they thieving? No. Are they having a nervous breakdown while their family rushes around them in support? No. They do not have the luxury of a support network and the very nature of Zimbabwean people has been hailed as their biggest downfall. We do not have an aggressive people who rise up in rebellion like the Mau Mau, Hutus or Tutsis, we don’t even have a people who are comfortable to protest their living conditions or human rights but we do have a very brave people who stand up for each other but have been left cowering under a tyrant’s regime so alien to this same nature. They have been criticized and castigated as not warlike enough, not motivated enough, yet Zimbabwe is one of the lowest crime country’s in the world. I have a friend who was robbed at gun point once a few years ago. The thief apologized to her for any trauma , explained that his children were starving and when she asked for her Grandmothers ring back for sentimental reasons he sympathetically sifted through the pile of jewelry to find it for her. This is the nature of crime here unless politically motivated.
Another common sight on our streets are the dustbin foragers. Starving people who have no other option but to sift through our trash to try to find food or usable or salvable items. They are wonderful recyclers these dustbin people. They take the plastic bottles and glass jars to refill with wares and resell them. And on the occasion that I might have handed over my $1 to one of these their humble gratitude and unfailing “God bless you madam” is absolutely illuminating in graciousness. If I was foraging in a dustbin and someone arrived in a car to hand me a paltry $1 would I be so magnanimous in gratitude? I’m not sure I would have that grace….
Yes life here is hard. But when I start to feel sorry for myself or my kids because I can’t take them on a skiing holiday or even to the beach then I just have to drive past Sole and his brethren and acknowledge the immense and humbling gratitude with which he receives his daily dollar. The girls and I left Sole yesterday and then Cami piped up “Mum I have a really big T shirt that I think would fit him, should I give it to him?”
We arrived home on our newly leveled road and the girls dived into their cupboards while I raided the food pantry. The bag Sole is holding in the picture is the offering from a household of women including shirts, socks, a towel, blanket and food for a good Christmas meal and a few days more. Who am I to worry about whether I have the right dress for Christmas Day or if I have enough stuffing to fill the turkey? At the end of the day Sole is no different to me, he shows up for work in the best clothes he has and does the best with what he has at that time. And at some point in that day the Universe blesses him with a drive past from a harried mum who takes a moment to try and make his life a little better for a day or two.
Isn’t that what life is all about? Yes there are so many different levels of it but if one just gets up and goes out to work with the tools and ability one has then the Universe cannot help but respond, whoever you may be.
This then is my Christmas Eve message. It is a Zimbabwean story and a proudly Zimbabwean message. We may be governed by tyrants, victims of the highest unemployment records in the world but we take our responsibility for this. This is or country and I’m proud to say that these are our countrymen and women. From Sole through to the business moguls who have built empires here. We have an entire older generation of men and women who couldn’t leave when the many crunches came, many of our pensioners live frugal lives far removed from their earlier years. Life is hard for them too. But across this diverse Zimbabwean people neither the unemployed nor the businessman nor the pensioner look for unearned assistance. We don’t whine and blame and wait to be saved by the World Bank or the U.N or the human rights agencies. (Well I might whine a bit…!) Whoever we are we get up and go out, we do our very best with what we have and at the end of the day that’s enough. Whether it’s enough to feed us for that day or take our dream holiday, it’s enough. But it is the people like Sole (or is it Soul?!) and the dustbin people who show me this. I don’t look at them as vagrants and potential thieves, I see them as people just like me, making the very best of a very bad circumstance and I am uplifted. If they can do it, so can I. And if I can make a difference, no matter how small, in a single life with my single dollar then this is what I must do. It is not charity, it’s simply recognition for the sweat and labour of that person who is trying to make my life better too…..This is what it means to be human. And critically, this is what it means to be Zimbabwean.
This is my message. Send it global. And have a very special, very Happy Christmas.
Linda xx   :UNQUOTE


@FrancesMacForde  #CathyBuckle  #InspiredTalesFromZimbabwe  #BrunetteOnABicycle #ChristmasStory

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Stephen Page

Author: The Salty River Bleeds, The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. Alum: Palomar College, Columbia University, Bennington College. Follow on twitter @SmpageSteve on Instagram @smpagemoria on Facebook @steven.page.1481

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