The current exchange rate: $1.00 U.S.= 99,202.00 Zimbabwe
Tuesday 7th March 2006
Dear Family and Friends,
This letter is being sent out three days later than normal because I am now entering the 92nd hour with only enough electricity for lights in my home. At midday on Friday the voltage to my home crashed and the power is insufficient to heat the water geyser, run a fridge or stove or even boil a kettle. 25 telephone calls to the electricity supplier in the last four days, a personal visit to the faults office, a number of offers to provide fuel or go and collect electricians are all to no avail. In the villages less than 15 kilometres out of Marondera there is also no electricity which means the grinding mills are not working. I was told by a friend that there are scores of people now going without food and that the atmosphere is extremely tense.
This morning there is literally mud coming out of the taps in my home which means there are problems pumping water too. Zimbabwe is now entering the darkest of days. It is hard to describe how anyone is surviving now and this week I had the most amazing encounter which helped me put my own problems into perspective.
Standing at the entrance gates of a wholesaler there was a thin, gaunt, tired looking man. On the ground next to him was a small pile of empty cement bags. He bent and picked up a bag and held it towards me, asking me to buy it. An empty cement bag, turned inside out and with two crude holes cut into the top for handles. "Only thirty thousand dollars" the man said to me. This was literally just an empty cement bag, it hadn't been sewn, reinforced or even cleaned very well. I could think of no earthly reason why I would want an empty cement bag but the look in the mans eyes, the slight trembling of his hand and the thinness of his body gave me a whole lot of reasons. I gave the man forty thousand dollars and told him to keep the change. I took my cement bag and the man called out "God bless you, thank you," as I walked away. We both knew that the money I'd just handed over would buy the man just half a loaf of bread but to me, and obviously to him, selling cement bags enables a sliver of dignity to be maintained. Please keep the people of Zimbabwe in your thoughts and prayers in these very hard times and thank you for reading.
h/t: John Ray