Tom Benyon OBE has returned from a trip to Zimbabwe where he met many of those who work for, and who support, the charity he founded – ZANE (Zimbabwe a National Emergency).
He describes his recent trip as mixture of sadness and joy.
He says that a particular sadness was to wish farewell to two of ZANE’s key team members who have been with the charity for over eleven years. Both have decided that it is now time for them to leave Zimbabwe to be nearer the younger members of their own families who have already left.
“Of course all good things come to an end but it’s profoundly sad for us all to see them go. They have both been a joy to work with and they will never be forgotten by ZANE or by the desperately needy whose lives have been immeasurably improved by their loving work.”
Tom has no doubts that their excellent work will be continued by those replacing them but his sadness at their departure is evident.
Happier points in this recent trip to Zimbabwe included two shows by ZANE trustee and cabaret performer, Nicky Gayner, who put on her “Empty Nest” show in Harare and Bulawayo to around 400 attendees.
Tom describes the shows as “a triumph”.
He says that the current state of Zimbabwe is the opposite.
“The situation in Zimbabwe is dire with no money for the poorest of the poor other than what is sent by offshore relatives so the continuation of our work is vital.”
Here is recent information on the work being carried out by ZANE.
– The charity now provides assistance to well over 2500 of the poorest of the poor pensioners whose assets were destroyed in the great inflation.
– In the high density areas ZANE:
a) runs an education programme;
b) gives assistance to damaged women;
c) supplies hearing aids;
d) provides prosthetic limbs to those who lost hands and feet through the clearance of land mines; and
e) has just introduced its 1,070 clubfoot child patient case into its programme.
– The charity is expanding its ‘ZANE in Australia’ and ‘ZANE in the US’ initiatives.
It’s clear that ZANE’s work is increasing but so too is knowledge about all that it does.
A large chunk of thanks for this must go to the Benyons and to the annual, exhausting walks they’ve undertaken to raise the charity’s profile and funds.
At the end of a very humid summer day in Oxford last year I watched Tom and Jane complete the most recent of these walks. It was the third one I had seen come home and everything suggested it had been the toughest.
Here’s what I wrote at the time:
“Grandchildren, parents of those children, fellow-walkers, and ZANE trustees weren’t just clapping the sunburnt pair and their bouncing dog home … all of us at the finish could feel the personal cost.
Our applause was a mix of relief and amazement, and was also on behalf of all those who may never know the true price of every penny raised.”
Below are several links I have included for interest.
The first link is to an article published in February 2015 by The Daily Telegraph which explains the history behind the pension crisis facing all Zimbabweans.
Here is a link to the ZANE website:
The following links are all to short pieces published on The Phraser about ZANE’s 2013 and 2014 fundraising walks across the United Kingdom.
Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2015