Where there is a will, there is a way

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THE adage: Where there is a will, there is always a way sums up the efforts of 70-year-old Matthew Ngwerume in the fight against HIV and Aids at Makumbi mission, in Domboshava, Harare.

Fortunate Taruva

Ngwerume, a strong Catholic and pensioner who had retraced his footsteps to Makumbi to “rest”, found himself at the centre of a life–saving initiative that has now attracted support from the whole of Makumbi mission as well as from outside partners in the form of the British and American embassies.

“I left Harare to see out my last days here. I used to operate ‘ambulance’ services with my truck, carrying people from the showgrounds to Makumbi Mission hospital. I would also carry them back once they were discharged from the hospital,” Ngwerume said.

“What struck me most was that the patients we carried from the hospital were usually unwell and still in need of care and support. They were let out to go for home-based support, but the reality is no one had prepared anybody to offer such support. With the help and support of my wife, we then started Chinamhora Peace of Mind Support Group, an initiative that sought to offer social and pastoral care to home-based care patients. We would organise home visits where we went and discussed procedures and benefits of positive living.”

Ngwerume’s efforts did not go unnoticed as Fr Muller SJ, the Mission Superior at Makumbi, appreciated the work that was being done and offered his support.

He introduced them to Sr Yullita, LCBL, who deals with herbs to treat human ailments.

“When we got in touch with Sr Yullita, we thanked God for that big breakthrough. Getting medication in pharmacies is expensive and not everyone can afford. Sr Yullita introduced us to traditional herbs that do treat a number of ailments. We got space within the mission compound to plant the herbs and since then, we never looked back,” Ngwerume continued.

“We have thriving gardens with a variety of herbal plants. We have two other gardens outside the mission.”

The herbs from the gardens are now being processed and packaged for domestic use at

Makumbi Mission, thanks to the kind donation from the British embassy. Ambassador Deborah Bronnet made it her mission that Ngwerume and Sr Yullita’s good work would not go unappreciated and helped them to build a processing plant that also packs the herbs into tea bags.

The American embassy built a conference facility where group members can have their meetings and forum discussions.

A number of beneficiaries of the support group gave moving testimonies of the changes in their lives once the initiative got going.

They have even composed songs that educate people.

One of them said: “We were literally condemned to die. We were staying in our homes unsure of what to do. But look at us now and see whether anyone can suspect we are ill. We don’t look ill at all, and we are mostly happy. It is all because we have each other for support, and because we are always busy at our gardens and with our meetings, we have no time anymore for self-pity, which in itself leads to depression.”

Fr Muller SJ is full of joy and pride.

“We are a mission and our mission is the people. We recognise that people are both soul and body and we are not here for the soul only, but also to take care of the body.”