By Ashley Gish
Despite the more than 8,000 mile separation, the Zimbabwe East and Kansas West annual conferences have a very special relationship. This relationship is a partnership – a covenant with the Shona title of “chabadza.” While traveling to the Chimanimani district of Zimbabwe, Bishop Scott Jones (Great Plains episcopal area) explained the spirit of chabadza as we passed a group of women manually tilling the red clay fields. When you go out to the field you bring along two hoes, he explained, when someone sees you working very hard, they are likely to join you in achieving your goal and may take up the extra tool and work alongside you in the spirit of chabadza.
Later, I understood more fully why Bishop Jones used a metaphor in explanation – chabadza cannot be simply translated, it must be lived to be understood. As we shared in the celebration of Phase Two of the Imagine No Malaria campaign in Chimanimani, that spirit came alive. Over 300 community members filled benches under big canvas tents at Biriiri Community Hospital to share in the experience as government officials, traditional community heads, and church leaders shared their support and thanks for the work that UMCOR and local communities have collaborated to tackle.
During the presentation, BishopScott Jones shared his plans to raise funds for Imagine No Malaria during the Great Plains Shoot for No Malaria event. He explained that on Feb.23, he will attempt 1,000 free throws. People all across Kansas and Nebraska will have the opportunity to purchase for $10 (the cost of one long-lasting insecticidal mosquito net) a guess of how many shots he will make. The crowd broke out in cheers and joyous laughter _ a Bishop all the way in America shooting baskets to benefit communities like Biriiri!
Our delegation had the honor that same day of traveling to a nearby community to assist in hanging mosquito nets at several families’ homes. I met a young boy named Taurai who watched with curiosity as these strangers from so far away came into his family’s home and worked side-by-side with his mother, Perfect, to assemble and hang two mosquito nets. These mosquito nets, along with the dedication of Perfect and her family to other forms of preventative action (such as keeping grass short, disposing properly of waste, and getting rid of standing water around the house) will significantly reduce not just their family’s exposure, but the whole community’s risk for contracting this deadly and preventable disease.
It was in this moment that I came to understand through living the true spirit of chabadza. Imagine No Malaria works because it truly is chabadza – it is working together, understanding that lending an extra hand in hard work will benefit all, and recognizing that each and every one of us has this unique opportunity to reach out and be a part of partnering in something great. As Bishop Jones began his celebration address, “God wants to end Malaria and God works his will through people like you and me.”