Sunday, May 27, 2007

Cathy Buckle's Weekly Letter from Zimbabwe !

Saturday 26th May 2007
Dear Family and Friends,

A friend phoned recently with the news that her grand-daughter had just had a baby. The words of congratulations for the great grandmother froze when I heard that there were serious complications. The baby had been born with her bowel and intestine outside of her abdomen. Under normal circumstances in a fully functioning country this would be dire news. In Zimbabwe it sounded like an almost certain death sentence. Doctors and nurses strikes, chronic shortages of drugs, ten to twelve hour electricity cuts, interrupted water supplies and worst of all, the brain drain. Seven years of political turmoil, oppressive laws dictating every facet of our lives and the devastating economic collapse has seen professionals pour out of the country in hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions.
Every single step of the way in saving my friends newly born great grand daughter was littered with problems. Nothing at all was guaranteed from fuel for the ambulance to doctors not on strike, electricity being on and water coming out of the taps. From the University of Zimbabwe where we normally hear that the lecturers are on strike, the students are protesting or the student leaders are being arrested - out of this came one professor. A fortnight of delicate operations and proceedures, highly professional expertise and care and then came the wondrous news that the baby girl can go home. By now no one is calling the baby by her name, she is known as 'the miracle baby' and every one knows that without the 'Professor', this little Zimbabwean girl would not have made it. On Africa Day, a public holiday, I had no water at home and the electricity was off for just over ten hours and I found myself thinking about this little miracle baby and the Professor who had saved her. It is very hard to stay in Zimbabwe when everything around you is collapsing. It is even harder for the young, highly educated professionals to stay. Without a doubt these men and women could get work anywhere in the world and the temptation to leave is very high. Those few who have been able to stay are doing so at great sacrifice to themselves and I don't know how we ordinary Zimbabweans can thank them - but we do.
It would be unrealistic to believe that all the hundreds of thousands of professionals who have left Zimbabwe these past seven years will come home, but we hope some will. The load on Zimbabwe's professionals is very heavy but for many of us it is because they have found a way to stay they have ensured that we too are able to stay. It was a bleak Africa Day for many Zimbabweans but for the family of the miracle baby, it was a day of peace and love and one filled with gratitude.
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.

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