Why the Need?
The situation in Zimbabwe for the pensioners has not changed for the better. The main change that has taken place is that the shops are now quite well stocked compared to some years ago when the shops were empty.
When the Zimbabwe dollar collapsed 4 years ago the Zimbabwe Government started to use the US $ as the official currency. What this meant was that any person who had Zimbabwe dollars was left with worthless paper. The people that had trillions in the banks or even in their homes were also left with nothing. There has never been any compensation issued by the banks or government to any of the pensioners.
The one good thing that came out of the Zimbabwe dollar collapsing was that every person that was working was now paid in US $ or SA Rands. For the first time EVER it was no longer ILLEAGLE to have foreign currency in your possession. For a few months shops selling food would only accepting foreign currency and would not sell you any food if you were going to pay with Zimbabwe dollar. Now the situation had changed, all people working were being paid in forex and shops were opening up in all the towns. They are well stocked but 50 to 100% more expensive than the South African shops. This all sounds good BUT there is another side to this story.
Some of the pensioners were receiving pensions in Zimbabwe dollars. With the collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar this segment of the population were left with NOTHING. If they had money in the bank it was wiped out and they were no longer receiving pensions. The situation for the pensioners is now worse than ever. Some of the pensioners have started to receive pensions paid in US $. Some of the pensioners are receiving as little as 13 US $ a month. I was speaking to a pensioner in Kadoma. Ann was crying and I asked her what the problem was. This is what she had to say. I get a pension of 40 US $ a month from Old Mutual. The bank takes 2 US $ , my rent is 35 US $ so that leaves me with 3 US $ for food. This is a fairly common situation that I come across. There is of cause the very small percentage of pensioners that are well supported by their children.
Since 2000, due to hyperinflation and the collapse of the economy in Zimbabwe the pensioners in Zimbabwe's old age homes have been finding it more and more difficult to survive. With the era of farm invasions and the disintegration of the Zimbabwe economy, pensions and savings have been wiped out and most pensioners have been left totally destitute and reliant on outside support. Government and foreign food agencies are not supplying their basic needs and thus most were facing starvation unless someone came to their aid.
In 2002, the Zimbabwe Pensioner Supporters Fund came into being with the aim of providing basic essential food to destitute pensioners in Zimbabwe old age homes, to enable them to survive.
What started off as a single bakkie taking up relief to a few people in one home, has now grown to three large trucks taking up between 17 - 20 tons of foodstuff every 8 weeks and feeding over 1600 pensioners in more than 28 old age homes throughout Zimbabwe.
The fund provides an apple box of basic essentials to each pensioner every 8 weeks. In addition, basic, non-prescription medicine, walking aids, wheel chairs and clothing are also provided.
It is not an exaggeration to say that without this essential support many would have starved to death.
As the support has grown, the fund has been able to take on more and more homes and is able to assist more pensioners.
The fund's aim is to meet the needs of the pensioners throughout Zimbabwe who are not receiving support, but this is dependent on the support of YOU, the public.
The fund is a registered non-profit organisation and other than a few full time workers, the packing, loading and delivery of parcels to Zimbabwe is carried out by volunteers who receive no remuneration for their services.
The fund is totally reliant on donations from the public in order to sustain its operations. Donations such as foodstuffs, clothing, fuel, tyres, truck maintenance and even the trucks themselves have been donated to keep the operations going.