Lent Call Week 3: LewCAS

The Revd Canon Wendy S Robins writes…

In addition to the food banks which the Lent Call is supporting in the Croydon and Kingston Areas, the Lent Call for 2021 is also supporting food banks in the Woolwich Episcopal Area.

Today we are focusing on LewCAS, which is based at St John’s Church, Deptford and which was set up in 1996. Like so many food banks and community outreach initiatives in our parishes, LewCAS began because a group of people saw a need and responded to it. When the Rt Revd Peter Hall was Bishop of Woolwich, his wife, Jill, and other teachers of English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) at Lewisham College realised the difficulties that were being experienced by asylum seekers and took action. The result was LewCAS, which collected food for distribution as well as funds to enable those affected to continue to have access to language lessons. It became a registered charity in 1998 and has now reached its 25th year.

Here is the story of one refugee which LewCAS have shared:

Aster, who comes from Eritrea, has been here more than 10 years, waiting to get her situation regularised. She studied and has a qualification in social care but cannot be legally employed. All this time she has been struggling alone. At one point she spent a month sleeping in a coach station, and nobody asked why she was there or what she needed. She has now been found a host by the Refugee Council and is hugely happy and grateful for this, but she despairs when she thinks about how long she might have to wait before she can stand on her own two feet. She says, ‘You used to be able to get your papers after 10 years, then they made it 14, and now it is 20!’”

And then there is the story of Serges, who does now have papers but remains unable to work because of a technical muddle. His story is dramatic as at one point he was held in a detention centre pending deportation and was even taken onto the plane ready to be deported. An incident occurred which meant that he was taken off the plane and he was eventually released from the detention centre. He now does some work for people from Crofton Park Baptist Church who help to ensure that he has some of what he needs.

This small charity is run from churches in Lewisham and staffed entirely by volunteers. You can hear some more about it on this video.

Like many food banks at this time, the need has expanded and it has been hard for them to make sure that they have enough to provide for all that is needed and they will use any money that they receive as a result of the Bishop’s Lent Call to make sure that they have enough food and other essentials items to distribute.

The work that LewCAS does with refugees is so very important and they make sure through their membership of FareShare that they have fresh produce to share and they join with other organisations to ensure that those in need have winter coats. Occasionally they ask for people to donate furniture, too.

But refugees are not the only ones in need and later in the week we will see videos from Together Southwark’s Lunch Box scheme and learn about how they are helping to ensure that children have meals during school holidays.

Please do consider whether you can show compassion to those who are in need at this time and pray for the work of LewCAS and, if it is possible, donate to the Bishop of Southwark’s Lent Call who will then be able to pass on your help to the those who are in need as they are unable to work and provide for themselves. Thank you.

Here is a prayer for use with the Bishop’s Lent Call

Creator God,
we give thanks for all that you have given to us.
We pray for those who are experiencing food insecurity.
in the places featured in the Lent Call and elsewhere.
Help us to show compassion for them.
Give us the will to work with others to help to bring about change.
Help us to show our care and concern for those around us who are in need.
Bring justice and fullness of life to all your people.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.
Amen.

Please also read and reflect upon the passage again.

In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way — and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.    Mark 8. 1-8

Lent Call Week 2: Norwood & Brixton Foodbank ‘Care & Concern’

The Revd Canon Wendy S Robins writes…

In finding out about the Norwood and Brixton Food Bank, the dedication of its volunteers became immediately apparent as they ensured that we had the information that was needed to feature their work in the Bishop of Southwark’s Lent Call for this year. I couldn’t help but think that the level of care and concern that they showed for this task was mirrored in all that they did to care for those who used the food bank.    

The food bank operates out of St Luke, Norwood, which is where it began nearly a decade ago. Since then, it has also grown to include St Paul, Brixton and Beacon Church, Brixton. It has recently also integrated the stores from the Waterloo and Vauxhall food banks within its newly expanded and fitted-out warehouse. The food is now delivered to those in need because of the pandemic and people are really grateful for all that they receive as this user explains:

“MY OH MY where do I begin… Recently let go from work but told I have earned too much to receive benefits. Only entitled to £95 for another four weeks… devastating. I was offered food bank vouchers and refused due to pride. Lonely, broke and reluctant to turn to family and friends due to shame and pride, I was called by a lovely man from the DWP who advised that the food bank parcels are lovely, delivered and discreet… so I agreed to have a parcel!!! I am ELATED!! I have not smiled this much in weeks!!! Fresh fruit  and vegetables, oil, eggs, beans, puddings, nappies and wipes, washing tablets, marshmallows for hot chocolate, pasta rice, broccoli, biscuits, squash, jam, shower gel and SO MUCH MORE!!!! Absolutely everything my children and I needed!! I am very very GRATEFUL eternally!! Thank you so, so, so, so much!! Amazing!! Thank you also to the polite young man who delivered to me!! You are amazing!! Without you I don’t know what I would have done!!”

Elizabeth Maytom presented with Lancelot Andrewes medal

In the video below you will see Elizabeth Maytom, who founded the food bank and is now the Project Lead there, talking about the work that they do. On Sunday 21 February, the First Sunday of Lent, Elizabeth was presented with the Lancelot Andrewes Medal for godly service and zeal for the Gospel. This medal, which is presented by Bishop Christopher, was given to her by the Archdeacon of Lambeth, The Venerable Simon Gates, on the Bishop’s behalf for her work with the food bank.

The food bank is also a member of the Trussell Trust and you can read about their work here: Journeying Towards Justice.

Please do pray for those who use the Norwood and Brixton Foodbank and continue to pray for those who use the Wandsworth Foodbank and other food banks in the Diocese. You might like to use this prayer for the Lent Call:

Creator God,
we give thanks for all that you have given to us.
We pray for those who are experiencing food insecurity.
in the places featured in the Lent Call and elsewhere.
Help us to show compassion for them.
Give us the will to work with others to help to bring about change.
Help us to show our care and concern for those around us who are in need.
Bring justice and fullness of life to all your people.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.
Amen.

Please also consider whether you are able to contribute to the Bishop of Southwark’s Lent Call to help with their ongoing work and the work of the other projects which the Lent Call is supporting. Thank you.

Lent Call Week 2: Wandsworth Foodbank “There are many reasons why people need the services of a food bank”

The Revd Canon Wendy S Robins writes…

This week we are featuring two food banks in the Kingston Episcopal Area. Today’s video features the Wandsworth Foodbank and then on Wednesday there will be another blog and video about the Brixton and Norwood Foodbank.

As you will have seen from last week’s video and blog, there are many reasons why people need the services of a food bank even in “normal” times, and the pandemic has caused many more to seek help.

The Wandsworth Foodbank operates out of five venues across the Borough of Wandsworth: St Michael’s Church, Southfields; St Mark’s Church, Battersea Rise; The Yard, Putney (Ashburton Estate); St Paul’s Church, Furzedown; and the Shaftesbury Christian Centre, Battersea. All five venues have had to close because of the pandemic and so, whilst people would normally visit to collect food, this is not now possible.

Nonetheless, the need remains urgent and the numbers who find themselves in need of help to feed themselves and their families is increasing. As a result, the volunteers are making sure that food is delivered to people’s houses. The Wandsworth food bank has made a video for the Bishop’s Lent Call and in it you can hear from Dan, the food bank’s manager, and Danny, who helps to deliver the food to all sorts of unexpected places as you will see if you watch the video.

You can also find out more about the Wandsworth food bank at: wandsworth.foodbank.org.uk or on Twitter @WandsworthFB and on Instagram at WandsworthFoodbank.

Like many of the food banks in the Diocese, the Wandsworth Foodbank is a member of the Trussell Trust Group of food banks who work together to ensure that people who are in need of food and assistance receive it, but they also campaign to end hunger and destitution in the UK. You can find out more about their work on their website at: trusselltrust.org.

As you go through this week, please do pray for those who are involved as volunteers and workers at the Wandsworth Foodbank and especially for those whom they help to feed. Pray for those who are hungry and homeless and for those who are displaced from their homelands and without a means of earning enough to live on. You might find it helpful to use the Lent Call prayer as you pray for those about whom you have heard:

Creator God,
we give thanks for all that you have given to us.
We pray for those who are experiencing food insecurity.
in the places featured in the Lent Call and elsewhere.
Help us to show compassion for them.
Give us the will to work with others to help to bring about change. Amen.

Please also consider carefully and prayerfully whether you can make a donation to the Bishop of Southwark’s Lent Call in thanks to God for all that God has done for you. Thank you.

The Trussell Trust’s CEO, Emma Revie, wrote an article for our Hearts on Fire Blog this week-end about Food Insecurity.

Week 1: St Matthew, Redhill – ‘Nothing had prepared me to hear the stories of food banks in our local areas’

The Revd Canon Wendy S Robins writes…

This first week of the Bishop’s Lent Call we are focusing on the work of St Matthew, Redhill, which established its food bank eight years ago. In the video below, The Revd Canon Andrew Cunnington, who is Vicar of St Matthew, shows us around the food bank at the Church. What surprised me, and I say this having put together the project sheet about St Matthew’s, is that it is so big.

In the material about the food bank, we learn that it started in two cupboards at the back of the church where the food was stored. Indeed, Andrew even shows us the cupboards in the video! Now, the food lies in piles ready to pack all around the church. I have to say I am not at all clear what happens when the people who worship at St Matthew’s can go back into the church for worship because, at present, there is nowhere for them to sit! But then we go outside and we see the Portakabins and the shed in which all the food is stored. I gasped the first and the second time that I saw this video. I guess this blog was a bit in need of a ‘spoiler alert’ and I hope that it will not put you off watching as there is so much to see and to learn and it is a real insight into the work of the volunteers at St Matthew’s and the complexity of the organisation.

When the Bishops of the Diocese first suggested that we should look at food insecurity, both here in our own Diocese and in our Link Dioceses, I had heard about the campaign by Marcus Rashford to enable schoolchildren to be fed during school holidays. But nothing had really prepared me to hear the stories of food banks in our local areas and the needs that they are meeting.

It saddens me to think that in this comparatively rich country, and in what is considered to be the affluent south-east of England, so many people have been forced into needing the support of food banks at this time. It is brilliant that places like St Matthew’s (and the food banks at Horley and Merstham and Gatton, with which they co-ordinate, as well as other food banks in the Croydon and Reigate areas) are doing the work that they are, but it is so sad that they need to do so. When the food bank started at St Matthew’s they used to feed between 10 and 20 families a week; now it is hundreds.

During this coming week, please think and pray about families in the Croydon Episcopal Area who have been forced into food insecurity by the ongoing effects of the pandemic. Think about what you might be able to do to help. Might you be able to donate a can or two of whatever is needed to your local food bank or volunteer at it? Might you be able to give something to the Bishop’s Lent Call to help all our projects? Whatever you feel you can do, please pray for God’s justice and equality for all, and remember all those who are helped by the Bishop’s Lent Call projects this year, that they might not have to worry about where their food will come from in the future. Thank you.

A prayer for use with the Lent Call material:

Creator God,
we give thanks for all that you have given to us.
We pray for those who are experiencing food insecurity.
in the places featured in the Lent Call and elsewhere.
Help us to show compassion for them.
Give us the will to work with others to help to bring about change.
Help us to show our care and concern for those around us who are in need.
Bring justice and fullness of life to all your people.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.
Amen.

‘…have compassion…’

Bishop Christopher writes:

As we begin Lent many of us will take up a discipline to help us to observe a reflective and prayerful time in preparing for Holy Week and Easter. Some of you, I know, will have decided upon a Lenten book and others of you will join a Lent Group through your church or decide to try a different daily prayer routine. Many – those who are a part of our churches and those who are not – will give up something as part of their Lenten discipline. It might be meat or alcohol or sugar or any number of things that you really enjoy. Others, too, might take something up for Lent such as trying to pray more or going for longer walks in order to have some time alone to reflect upon the day. Whatever you do I hope that you will find Lent to be a helpful time in which to reflect upon and grow in your faith.

Each year I invite individuals, churches and schools to join me in offering prayer and donations to my Lent Call projects. Usually the majority of the projects are in other parts  of the world but, this year, my brother Bishops and I are so aware of the need here at home too that we have decided that we will feature projects in this Diocese for three weeks of Lent and projects in our Link Dioceses for the other two. We have decided to feature food insecurity because this is a real issue for many here in the Diocese and for people in Zimbabwe and the Diocese of Jerusalem.  

The pandemic has changed many people’s lives in the last year as they have lost loved ones and found it harder to support themselves day by day. For some, the loss of income and security caused by the effects of the lockdowns has been the thing that has tipped them over into needing to use food banks and feeding projects both here and overseas.   

I hope that you will feel able to support these projects generously in the coming weeks, giving what you can to help others who have less. I know that some will have been spending less as a result of the lockdown and I hope and pray that, if this is the case for you, you will feel able to be generous in giving to the Lent projects. I know that for some this year has been very hard and if you are not able to give to the projects, please do pray for them.

I have recorded this video which talks about the projects that we are featuring:

Each week we will bring you a brief video about the projects that are featured. We have also produced some materials to help you to reflect upon the need for the work of the projects and the narrative of the feeding of the four thousand (Mark 8: 1-8), as well as a prayer.  Do please follow the Lent Call material and consider how you can best support the projects featured. Thank you.

A prayer for use with the Lent Call material:

Creator God,
we give thanks for all that you have given to us.
We pray for those who are experiencing food insecurity
in the places featured in the Lent Call and elsewhere.
Help us to show compassion for them.
Give us the will to work with others to help to bring about change.
Help us to show our care and concern for those around us who are in need.
Bring justice and fullness of life to all your people.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord.

Amen.

The world may be in lockdown but the work of our Lent Call projects goes on

So much has changed since the Bishop of Southwark chose his Lent Call projects for 2020 that it feels as if we are in a completely different world. All the places where this year’s Lent Call projects are situated have been affected in one way or another.

Our friends in Zimbabwe tell us that the lockdown restrictions there are more restrictive than here. Banks are closed as well as government offices and shops. The stalls where many sell fruit and vegetables to make a living, and which many use to buy food, lie abandoned and it is hard to see how people will manage to get the provisions they need.  The government has imposed the lockdown for 21 days initially from 30 March following the reporting of seven cases of COVID-19 and one death. The situation in Zimbabwe has been so precarious for so long now that this added difficulty for the economy and the people will be incredibly hard. 

The Holy Land, as you will have seen from earlier posts on this blog, is also in lockdown as there have been cases of COVID-19 in the West Bank and elsewhere. As in Zimbabwe, the situation in the Holy Land, with the years of tension and the increasing economic and social difficulties, will make the plight of those in lockdown even harder. Many Palestinians who work in Israel have travelled home because they are frightened of getting ill there and this is going to make the pressure on hospitals in the West Bank, which are already stretched, even worse.  

As you will know from earlier blogs, during our Diocesan Pilgrimage we were unable to visit the L’Arche Community which we are supporting in the Lent Call, but we know that they are struggling during the lockdown as people are unable to be together as usual.

Kaduna in Nigeria, where we are supporting the Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations, has gone into lockdown as well because of COVID-19 cases in the neighbouring areas. Here, too, is a place where there has been tension and so it is important that we pray for all those whom we are supporting that they might find ways to survive this crisis and work together to bring about an end to the spread of the virus as quickly as possible.

But it is not just in other parts of the world that the effects of Coronavirus are being felt. Here in our own Diocese and across the country people are having to deal with being locked down.

The offices of Sparkfish have closed on the advice of Government and the work that takes place in schools has had to stop. The Easter Experience, which the team had been planning for a long time, could not go ahead and the staff have been put on furlough as there is no work that they can do, although it is hoped that the staff will be able to come back to work when the schools go back.  Sparkfish asks for our prayers for the young people whose lives have been so profoundly affected at this time, especially those who were expecting to take GCSEs and A-levels.

The Nicholas Stewart Project has moved online during this period and the team is hoping to be able to stay in touch with those they work with in this way. It is not, they say, the same as working face to face, but it allows them to continue to offer help and support to at-risk young people in Wandsworth. 

Superkidz is still doing what it can for local families who are in need, as Nick Russell, Manager of the Superkidz Community Trust, says:  ”We are distributing more than 100 activity packs and Easter eggs to children and young people, with an Easter story colour in card. (See photos of the team social distancing!). I am also uploading videos for children and carers and young people which will include videos for Easter. We have a WhatsApp group for vulnerable girls, and we are setting one up for Years 6-8 and for Years 9 and above.”

He adds: “We are phoning around our parents and carers weekly to see how they are. We have applied for funding to be able to top up food and electricity or gas for families, where a wage earner has had to stop work and where shortages in budget supermarkets have meant extra spending in convenience stores.” So, as you will see, there is a lot to do and Superkidz continues to work hard to support local families.

This is an Easter day like none other that we have known and it will be hard for many, but please pray for our Lent Call projects and, where you can, give generously to them. Let us join with Bishop Christopher who at the end of his Easter message reminds us that we say today:

Hallelujah, Christ is Risen, he is Risen indeed, Hallelujah.

In Zimbabwe

The situation in Zimbabwe is often complicated and people rarely find life easy. Water shortages have been a constant problem over recent years because of the lack of rain, which has clearly been exacerbated by climate changes, making the rainy season warmer and drier. So, it is hard to hear that the coronavirus is also affecting the life and well being of our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe.  It is hard enough for us here in the UK to adjust to the new way of living and in Zimbabwe, where life is much more challenging anyway, it must be very difficult indeed.

Bishop Godfrey from the Diocese of Masvingo, which is linked with Southwark Cathedral, wrote on 18 March and here is what he said:

‘Because of the coronavirus, yesterday 17 March, the government of Zimbabwe banned all public gatherings of more than 100 people for the next 60 days. This ban includes all religious gatherings. The ban which is already in effect has affected the operations of the Diocese. The Mothers’ Union celebrations which were scheduled to take place 20 – 22 March (The Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary) has been postponed. Other activities in the Diocese have also been affected. 

There is however lack of awareness about the coronavirus. The public feels that the government should give more information about it. There are 2 quarantine centres in Harare containing very few beds. Our health delivery system has collapsed. Hospitals have no equipment or essential drugs. People have expressed concern at the preparedness of the government to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, people are beginning to panic and are fearful of what will happen if there is an outbreak in the country.

Three Chinese nationals who entered the country on 1 March are under quarantine in Buhera. This was confirmed by Buhera District Medical Officer. Buhera District is within the Diocese of Masvingo. There are other reports of individuals who are under quarantine in other parts of the country. We have not yet had confirmed cases of coronavirus. Zimbabwe has not closed its borders to visitors from countries where the presence of coronavirus has been reported. However, screening is being done at Harare International Airport and Victoria Falls Airport. 

Despite the coronavirus challenges, the Diocese of Masvingo continues to preach the Gospel with Clergy adopting new methods of doing their ministerial duties without exposing themselves or the faithful to coronavirus. This of course is not easy but even in these difficult times the Church needs to remain relevant. We have stopped using the chalice for communicants. The faithful have been discouraged from shaking hands during peace. Health measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus have been taken seriously in our ecclesiastical divisions throughout the Diocese.

The coronavirus is coming at a time when life is very difficult in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe annual inflation as measured by Consumer Price Index soared to 540% in February. The latest inflation figures are stoking fears of what we experienced as a country 10 years ago when we had hyperinflation leading to the collapse of our economy. Prices of basic commodities and services have skyrocketed. Shortages of diesel and petrol continue to persist in the country. There are, however, some petrol stations that sell in US dollars only. We are currently experiencing a hyperinflationary environment in the country.’

Since Bishop Godfrey wrote to us, on Sunday March 29, the Bench of Bishops in Zimbabwe has suspended Eucharistic services and worship.

In Central Zimbabwe we hear that they have taken the difficult decision to close their church buildings. Bishop Ignatios explains: ‘We have to manage our congregations from their homes. Communication is not easy in Zimbabwe; we have power cuts for long hours. We are not sure as to how widespread the virus is in Zimbabwe, the government is not clear as to how great the challenge is, it is all speculation. We have advised our parishioners and our suppliers not to visit the office physically. We are encouraging people to stay home. I know that it is not easy for the people in Zimbabwe to stay home since most of them are informal traders. The challenges of clean water are making the problem bigger.  Our streets are full of people and no testing is done to confirm cases of coronavirus.’  He goes on to say that he worries about how safe the priests are in their parishes.

There is much to be done in the Diocese of Masvingo and Manicaland even without the effects of coronavirus. In the Diocese of Manicaland they are still dealing with the after-effects of Cyclone Idai, there are still many displaced people and the threat of the spread of coronavirus can only make things worse. In Masvingo we are asked to support the work in their schools.  Most importantly they want to be able to repair boreholes or drill new ones to make sure that there is enough water to continue to offer feeding programmes for the schools. In so doing they will also be able to offer food to the villages around the schools.  

The schools also need more equipment particularly desks and chairs so that the children can have the best possible education.  Education remains hugely important even in these difficult times as young people still need to prepare for the future.  If the schools in Zimbabwe close they will not be able to work remotely, as we can here, because there is often no electricity and internet access is always unreliable and often non-existent in the rural areas.  More than that if schools close then there is a real danger that children will have even less to eat as so many depend on school feeding programmes.  It is so important that, even at this uncertain time for us, we continue to pray for the people of Zimbabwe and for the work of the Church there and wherever possible to donate to the Lent Call as a way of giving thanks to God and showing practical support for those in need in our link Dioceses in Zimbabwe.

Moffat Musasa, the Diocesan Treasurer in the Diocese of Matabeleland, has written on behalf of Bishop Cleophas.  He says, that ‘Covid-19 has caused a lot of despair and pain across the globe. Our country has not been spared of this affliction.’   He notes that the closure of churches will have a negative effect on the ability of the churches to collect funds which in turn are passed on to help run the Diocese. Mission schools are also closed and the levies collected from the Mission schools have helped to keep the Diocese afloat. He says, ‘Most of our people in the Diocese are not yet conversant with the digital payment platform. Most of the parish funds are collected on the offering plate on a Sunday when people meet for worship. The Diocese will find it extremely hard to function during the lockdown and the period soon after it. Stipends for the clergy, office running costs and support for the vulnerable will certainly be difficult to fund.’ 

Sadly, because of the global outbreak of the coronavirus a visit planned by a group of clergy from the Diocese of Matabeleland has had to be postponed.

Many of the things happening in the Dioceses in Zimbabwe are being mirrored here but the people of Zimbabwe have been suffering for a very long time and so we hope that you will still consider giving generously to the Bishop of Southwark’s Lent Call so that our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe know that we are supporting them not only in prayer but in practical ways.  Thank you.   

In Zimbabwe – Central Zimbabwe

Each year during the Bishop of Southwark’s Lent Call we focus for part of the time on our Link Dioceses in Zimbabwe.  Our Links are with Central Zimbabwe (Croydon Episcopal Area), Matabeleland (Kingston Episcopal Area), Manicaland (Woolwich Episcopal Area) and Masvingo (Southwark Cathedral).  The fifth Diocese in Zimbabwe – Harare – is linked with the Diocese of Rochester.

We try to keep regularly in touch with our friends and colleagues in each of the Dioceses sharing news and praying for one another.  The Croydon Episcopal Area sends the money raised to help the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe as support for the Diocese’s budget.  This means that the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe can choose its priorities and use the money in the way which is most needed in the Diocese.   This year the Diocese of Manicaland has told us that they wish to focus on feeding programmes for the food insecurity that they are experiencing in all parts of the Diocese.  

In recent correspondence with Bishop Ignatios, the Bishop of Central Zimbabwe, he tells us that there has been poor rainfall which leads to further concerns about food security.  He says:

‘The Diocesan catchment area is among the worst hit by the drought. The Famine Early warning Systems Network (October 2019-May 2020) indicates that the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe is within the crisis category. The dam catchment areas for Runde indicates only 38.9% capacity and Sanyati 48.3% capacity and these are the catchment areas covering the Diocese. This is the period that catchment areas should be recording 100%. This means the majority of our people are going to have difficulties in accessing adequate water for domestic use and livestock.’

Bishop Ignatios goes on to say, ‘The majority of households are not going to have adequate food as a result of the prolonged drought.’   He tells us that relief publications suggest that over 60% of population is now food insecure.   He says that visiting different areas in the Diocese indicates a pathetic situation in as far as crop stands are concerned.

The Diocese has made many interventions in trying to help people within the Diocese to farm as well as they can by encouraging them to farm in God’s way which is a tried and tested environmentally friendly method of farming used in much of Africa.  The difficulty is that, where there is not enough water, no matter how good the method it is impossible to farm.  So, the Diocese will be drilling and equipping boreholes in two or three areas, which they hope will help to supply water for both domestic and nutritional gardens.  They also hope to be able to supply seeds and young plants for people to be able to grow food for themselves, their families and their community.  But, the situation is so fragile that all we can do is hope and pray that these attempts to help the situation work.

Crops are helped to grow when a bore hole and tank offer water

As well as helping people to grow food the Diocese also wants to offer supplementary feeding to the worst affected areas by supplying Maheu (a nutritious drink made from leftover sadza) to the worst affected households as well as to Mission schools.  They hope also to be able to buy and distribute sugar beans to critically affected households and to distribute grain to those who are displaced and the elderly.

The situation is Zimbabwe has long been a desperate one and this continues even as people in our own country and other parts of the world are also finding their lives turned upside down.  As we seek to find new ways to be church here in this Diocese and this country it is important that we do not lose sight of those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ in Zimbabwe, and other parts of the world, and continue to support them whenever we can.

In Southwark Diocese – Superkidz

Superkidz started as a joint project between Eltham Green Community Church and St James’ Kidbrooke and is now a registered charity managed by a Church Army worker based at St Saviour’s Eltham. It works on four estates in the area, serving communities that are among the most deprived in the country, helping children and young people whose lives have been scarred by domestic violence, abuse and neglect.

Find out more at southwark.anglican.org/lentcall