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why has God abandoned us?"
Patricia Walsh of the Dominican Order of the Catholic Church in
June 01, 2005
Family and Friends, thank
you for your telephone calls, your e-mails and all your support
and encouragement in these dreadful days and hours - it is a great
The international press
says that the police are destroying "illegal structures"
in Zimbabwe. Let me share with you a little of what is very legal
but has been destroyed.
In 1992 many thousands
of people were put into a Holding Camp at a Place called Hatcliffe
Extension, they were not allowed to build permanent structures because
this was going to be temporary. In 1995 one of our student Sisters,
Tarisai Zata who was a student at the School of Social Work and
was doing some studies for her degree, one evening she came back
Home and said "we must do something to help these people to
live like human beings" and that was the beginning of the Dominican
Missionary Sisters involvement in Hatcliffe.
We have worked with the
people there for the past 10 years, peoples of all religions and
none, people of all political persuasions and none.
Over the years through
the generosity of you all we were able to sink 8 bore holes, help
to feed thousands of people, build and run a crèche for AIDS
orphans (180) of them. We visited once a week and two of our nursing
Sisters, Gaudiosa and Carina treated people, helped to get about
100 People on to an Anti-Retroviral medicine programmers etc do
home based care, took people to hospitals etc.
The people of Hatchliffe
have become friends and family of us the Dominican Sisters.
Yes, some people had
moved in illegally, but the majority were there because they were
put there and were repeatedly told that they would be moved to a
better place at some time, most of them paid their monthly "rent"
for The little square patch.
On Friday morning last
week I got a call that the riot police had come into a section of
the area and demolished everything - most of the wooden Shacks are
just broken to pieces. I went out on Friday and Saturday - people
were sleeping out in the open, many of them sick, cold and hungry.
On Saturday I visited again some had managed to leave (those who
have Z$500 000 - and have some relatives in "legal" places".
On Sunday morning I got
a call that the police had given instructions That all structures
in the original section have to be demolished within 24 hours, including
the crèche, clinic and other structures which we had built
with and for the people. Where do I get people on Sunday to come
and dismantle all the buildings. I decided to wait until Monday.
On Sunday evening I received one phone call after another saying
"come quick they are going to kill us" - others would
say "don't come you might be killed".
Early on Monday morning
I drove out to Hatcliffe, already in the distance I Could only see
smoke rising up - nothing else. I arrived, I wept, Sister Carina
was with me, she wept, the people tried to console us - they were
aLL outside in the midst of their broken houses, furniture and goods
all over the place, children screaming, sick people in agony. Some
of the people who are on ARV drugs came to us and said we are phoning
Sister Gaudiosa (Sister is doing the ARV programme) but she is not
answering us, we are going to die". We explained that Sister
was on Home leave but that we would help in whatever way we could.
It was a heartbreaking situation.
The structures "mentioned
above" that we the Dominican Sisters were working from were
left untouched but had to be dismantled immediately otherwise They
too would be destroyed. Sister Balbina from the House of Adoration
came with carpenters and other staff members and started dismantling
We are distributing all
of them to people who have nothing, they will be OK if we leave
them lying on the ground. Some friends arranged for a crane to come
in to lift out two containers where we had medicine and food stored
- it was one of the saddest days of my life.
How does one say that
Peter aged 10 and his little brother (John) aged 4 (not their real
names) are "illegal". We had provided them with a wooden
hut when their Mother was dying, she has died in the meantime, these
two Little people had their little home destroyed in the middle
of the night, we get there, they are sitting crying in the rubbish
(that was their home until Sunday) - what do we do with them? They
are only one example of the many vulnerable orphans whose little
lives are destroyed.
Veronica (not her real
name) is an elderly widow who is chronically ill herself, she has
3 young grandchildren from her dead daughter - her home is destroyed.
She is wearing a Rosary Beads around her neck, an apron with the
picture of the Sacred Heart and a tee shirt with President Mugabe's
photo - she has tried all means to survive!
Some people came and
said, "Sister there are two people who are dying, please come."
One of them Mary (not her real name) who is out in the open all
night lying on an old damp mattress can't move with pain, she has
shingles, which is open and bleeding. What is worse her tears or
her bleeding wounds? I felt/feel paralyzed.
Anne (not her real name)
delivered a baby a week ago, she is Critically ill and is on the
verge of death, what do we do with her? We give her pain killers,
we give her blankets, we give her food (which she in unable to eat)
- what is going to happen to her baby?
Some of you have asked
if I am safe, don't worry we are well "protected" by the
riot police who are cruising around this disaster area all day,
I was so relived to see them eating sugar cane which means that
they are not hungry and will have the strength to "protect
us", I don't for a minute believe that they accepted this sugar
cane from "illegal people" on an "illegal settlement".
A Grandmother asks, "Sister
why has God abandoned us? I do not try to answer. People call out
"Sisters pray for us". An emergency taxi (mini bus) stands
in the middle of this "war zone" with the words "God
is Faithful" written on it!
Just now we are going
back there with food, clothing, medicine and cash, we can only try.
I am NOT cold, I am NOT
hungry but I am very ANGRY. I pray that this will pass.
We stand in shock and
cry with the people but we also have to try to keep them alive.
When will sanity prevail?
Where is the outside
world? Busy talking about a "NO vote by France".
How can the "little
ones of this world be brutalized in this way"? Their only crime
- they are poor, they are helpless and they happen to live In the
wrong part of town and in a country that does not have oil and is
not very important to the West.
One bystander told me
that he had phoned the Red Cross asking for help but was informed
"it is not a war situation" so there is nothing we can
PRAY FOR US.
God bless and reward
you for your concern.
Patricia Walsh OP
PS the only "good"
thing that I have experienced is that my otherwise very gray hair
had a nice red tinge yesterday evening (from the red dust in Hatcliffe)!!
But I had to wash it - for a little while again today I will be
a "red head" - my Irish genes are coming through in my
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