A Distinctly Different Mission
by Paul Van Buren, 11/9/11
No two mission trips are the same. This one was distinctly different. Ten of us met in Harare, overloaded with baggage full of sewing supplies, a sewing machine, items for health care kits, tools, a rabbit cage, enough bean seed to plant 20 gardens, and a lap top. Only Corinne’s bag with her clothes was missing.
Our welcome to Project Tariro was overwhelming. We were moved to tears by the warm greetings and songs of the clients. They
had prepared food, skits, and dances to show their appreciation for our support of the project. Over the next few days we found out why they felt so grateful. Three members of our team, Debbie Gara (caravan 05), Gregory Gross (caravan 09), and Carly Fiske, interviewed more than 25 clients to record their personal stories and how Tariro was giving them hope. Some of these stories will be posted on the website here. The next morning we were off early to tour the Imire Game Ranch on our way to LaRochelle B&B, Mutare, located in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. Simon Herring, manager, adopted us like royal guests and for the next 8 days we enjoyed Simon’s skills as an outstanding host and entertainer.
Concurrently, Darlene Robertson and Corinne Van Buren went in to Mutare to buy three hand operated sewing machines and fabric to accommodate the enlarged sewing classes. (The Project now has a total of 6 sewing machines.) They set about teaching clients how to make diapers, handbags, sanitary napkins, and clothes. It was a very rewarding experience for everyone.
After waiting a year to provide the Tariro project with clean water, we cheered the hoisting of a 1,200 gallon water tank up on a 12 foot stand and then connected water to the kitchen and toilet facilities. For the first time, potable water flowed from the taps! Other projects accomplished through the team were: laying firebrick at the cooking shed, setting up drip irrigation kits, and putting together the rabbit hutch and distributing clothes.
Between classes, our group toured Africa University, the Hilltop UMC children’s feeding program, afternoon trip to the Vumba (mountains) and the New Hope Retirement Home near Gatsi in the Nyanga valley. But best of all was the opportunity to visit five of the rural homes of Tariro clients and learn how they live and cope
Both Gregory and Dan Gara, board members of Friends of Project Tariro, attended the Tariro Board meeting with Paul and learned about the challenge of seeking funding in relation to the Old Mutare Hospital. We learned that the program of Tariro is on target with the needs of the country and is quickly gaining attention for making a difference for persons living with HIV. with the dire situation of a failed state, massive unemployment, and political violence.
Our group returned home filled with the Tariro ‘spirit’ from seeing lives being transformed. We were inspired with renewed hope and commitment to find support to sustain the cutting edge ministry of Project Tariro.