The landlocked country Zimbabwe with its capital city Harare, which used to be known as Rhodesia is located in the southern Africa. The name “Zimbabwe” means “house of stones” in Shona – the most spoken language in Zimbabwe.
The climate in Zimbabwe is tropical with hot and humid summer days and dry seasons in winter time with frost at night. Temperatures can go down to minus 5-degree Celsius. The rain season usually starts in November and ends in March.
Maize is the staple food of Zimbabwe. It can be eaten in various ways but the most common way is to make sadza. Therefore, finely ground dry maize – also known as hupfu, is being used to cook a kind of porridge that is eaten with greens, beans, meat or fish. This is the most popular meal for indigenous people. They either purchase the mealie meal in shops or they produce it in a grinding mill from their own maize. Many people in poor areas of Zimbabwe are forced to eat sadza three times a day.
Almost 95 percent of the population are Christians. About 65 percent of them go to church frequently, since religion is very important to them – going to church is the only social activity for many people in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is 390.757 km2 big, that’s about the same size like Germany and Belgium. Estimateley, the population of Zimbabwe is 13.061.000 (in 2012). The country is facing hunger, un-employment, emigration and massive electrical cuts.
In no other country in the world, life expectations decreased as dramatically as in Zimbabwe. Within ten years it went down from 55 years to 44 years. In the past years it seemed to increase again a little bit.
One of the biggest problems o f the country are HIV and AIDS, because officially a seventh of all adults in Zimbabwe are affected by the fatal sickness. Almost 80 percent of the infected teenagers are female!
That’s why it is not surprising that the number of aids-orphans is being estimated 1,3 Million. This number doesn’t even include other children who have lost their parents due to other reasons. The extreme poverty still forces women to abandon their children and to leave the country.
About twenty years ago, Zimbabwe was one the strongest and richest African countries. However due to the economic decrease, the situation of the country went down drastically. Many companies had to close down because of Hyperinflation in 2008 and lack of investors and electric cuts. The use of US Dollars only helped the situation for a short time.
Life in Zimbabwe
(From Nicole’s perspective)
In big cities, like Harare and Bulawayo, wealthy families are enjoying a good life with quality houses, food and schools. There are enough private schools, restaurants, hotels, shops, national parks etc. which make elevate the quality of life.
However, the gap between rich and poor is huge! Alerady whilst passing through Harare, anyone can notice the uncountable street vendors, many of them are minors. On the side of the streets, lots of women are trying to sell fruits and vegetables – others are begging in order to survive. Often you can see children with their blind parents walking through the city, knocking on cars windows and begging for some coins. These families make me very sad each time I see them. Life in cities, especially down town is very busy, dirty and loud. There is no such thing like recycling in most places, that’s why trash can be found everywhere! It is being burned in fields on the side of the roads which leads to smog. On the other side, there are so many beautiful and stunning places in Zimbabwe – the nature, landscape and animals there are amazing to discover.
In rural areas, Zimbabweans fight survive each and every day. It’s almost impossible to find work there. It’s admirable how peaceful and helpful people treat each other, even though they live in such a difficult situation.
Most people in Zimbabwe speak Shona and they learn English school starting from grade 1. In rural areas it is common that children are not going to school or only for a few years, because so many parents cannot afford school fees (about 20 dollars per term in a governmental school in rural areas) and school uniforms.
These families sustain themselves by producing maize and greens. Some families additionally have some goats, chicken, cows or turkeys, but these families are being considered as “wealthy’ in rural areas. Even though I lived in Zimbabwe for some years, I still cannot understand how these families survive.
Most Zimbabweans have got a strong believe in God. Nonmatter what happens, they see the goodness of God in every situation. They know that He has got good plans for all of us. They believe that God is with each one of us all the time. And that he is a faithful God. This kind of faith has affected me and my life tremendously. I now understand that nothing happens by coincidence and that without Him, we can do nothing! All we can do is to work hard and to pray even harder.
The hope of Zimbabweans often comes from this verse, that’s why we have chosen it as our motto/slogan.
“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. (New International Version NIV)
The life of a 12-year-old girl in the rural areas of Zimbabwe:
She would wake up at 5 am in order to get water from the next boreholes which might be far away. The water will be used for making tea and porridge. The older brothers or the parents start the fire so that they can cook. In the meantime, the girls uses some of the water in order to “bath”. Therefore, she uses a bucket with water in a bathroom that consists of some brick-walls and a hole in the ground. After bathing she puts on her school uniform.
Then she wakes up her younger siblings and helps them to bath as well. The mother would start washing their nightwear and the girl would then start sweeping the sandy yard.
At around 7 am the family would start eating breakfast. In summer they eat in the shade under a tree and in winter they sit around the fire place in order to keep warm.
Latest at 7.20 the girl leaves her home and starts walking through bushes and fields in order to get to school.
School starts at 8 am with a morning devotion. Therefore, children have to march, sing and pray. Teachers and headmaster check whether all the children are wearing their school uniform properly and if they are even wearing a school uniform– if not the child would be sent home. Every child needs a school uniform.
In rural schools, a class can consist of about 50 children. The teachers are very strict. Even punish corporal punishments are very common.
At around 3 pm, the girl would walk home, where she has to wash her school uniform by hand and to water the garden. The water needs to be taken at the borehole of course. At 5 the mother and the older children start preparing sadza and vegetables. After eating, she would start doing her homework in the small hut that she shares with all her siblings and her parents, by candle light. The girl would sleep at around 8 pm.
In order to envision life in Zimbabwe, we have the following video. In this video, a woman has to manually grind corn because she cannot afford the cost of 1 US Dollar for the public mill.