Last week our daughter Imogen (12) returned home from her first
day at school disappointed that her best friend, Chichi wasn’t there. When
Imy phoned, Chichi through tears, told her the previous day she found her father
dead in the bedroom. The enormity of this tragedy is that Chichi’s mother
died shortly before the family left Zimbabwe around 7 years ago. This
leaves an orphaned family of three aged 11,13,15. Imogen and I immediately
went to the house to be with them.
When we arrived at the little terraced house in Frome that evening, there were many people (mainly Zimbabweans’) and we prayed and sang and sat in silence and wept. But a truly
remarkable community was gathering around the children to support them.
ChiChi’s father, Andrew (39) was a lovely man, who with limited resources has
done a fantastic job in raising his children to be caring, bright and fun
individuals. The eclectic group of people gathering were neighbours,
friends of the children, church members (particularly from the Wesley Methodist
church in Frome) and of course family.
Andrew has a brother,
Anderson, who along with his wife Kay are dealing with all the
arrangements. There is an older aunt who also lives in Frome who could
care for the children in the future. But we need the help of a larger
community now who can share some of the financial burden of the short term.
Family members are not in well paid jobs, and like many Zimbabweans are
already supporting others struggling under Mugabe’s rule. They will need
to find a new property to rent and have some living expenses for the period from
the end of this month until December. At the moment the post-mortem
is not conclusive as his cause of death, but the coroner has released his body
to be repatriated to Zimbabwe where his father will be able to bury him.
This will be several thousand pounds.
The Methodist church are offering support with ensuring the children’s residence is secure and exploring local charities and social services. They have already had a
collection and set up a restricted account to manage the money on behalf of the