.- Responding to a call from their bishops, Southern African Catholics have gathered 258 tons of food and medicine to be delivered to Zimbabwe to relieve the economic crisis there.
The bishops of Southern Africa, including those of Swaziland, South Africa and Botswana, had called for the observance of Solidarity Sunday for Zimbabwe on Feb. 15 to encourage donations.
According to an announcement by Fr. Chris Townsend, Information Officer for the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SABC), individual donors have given over 96 tons of soybeans and fortified children’s food. Donors have also contributed to the cost of packaging and transport, with about $90,000 in cash donations having been raised.
One individual donor gave over $83,000 worth of food.
A refrigerated container of medicine will also be part of the 258-ton shipment. Money raised in South Africa has been used to buy basic medical supplies for the Catholic Healthcare networks in Zimbabwe.
Fr. Townsend credited companies such as Future Life and Imana for “generously” allowing food to be purchased at cost. The Makro warehouse club chain has also given a discount on food purchased for Zimbabwe.
“So many individuals and communities, many of them poor themselves, have responded with incredible generosity,” said Fr. Vincent Brennan, Secretary General of the SACBC. “I’m amazed that so many people responded so generously. For many families, the current economic crisis is hitting hard, but so many gave so generously, from those who gave large donations …to those who came to the churches involved and dropped off one tin of food and some clothes.”
The aid shipment will leave for Zimbabwe in the next week. The aid will be distributed under the supervision of the Catholic charity Caritas International, with the guidance of a multi-agency food security need survey.
Caritas International is also running an International Emergency Appeal for Zimbabwe.