When Tariro thinks back on her call to the life of the church in her community, she remembers a child born with albinism and a mother who was excluded.
“She was my friend and she and her child suffered a lot,” Tariro Washaya remembers. “I was 24. The experience made me determined to work to see others included and accepted.” Tariro’s family have been deeply committed members of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe for generations.
Today, she is delighted to be working as the Programs Manager for the church’s development agency MEDRA. “I’m the first of five children, and my own parents were struggling to provide for us all, but they always encouraged us that education is the foundation of everything,” Tariro says. “Now I work with a really committed team and we don’t just address one issue – we support people who need water or a chance to earn a living, and we also tackle issues of social justice, human trafficking and inclusion of people with disability.”
Tariro remembers being drawn to the church’s vision of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, ushering people into a richer, deeper form of life. She enjoys her work most when she’s able to mentor other leaders, multiplying the impact of the work. “There is a young man, Wellington, in one of our communities who had not much education, living with his grandmother,” Tariro says. “He discovered a real passion for helping his community and has trained in some of our livelihood projects (goat and chicken rearing). The change in him is just incredible.
He wants to take on a real leadership role in his community and help others to take on new ideas. I feel so motivated when I think about how far he’s come.” The Uniting Church in Australia, through UnitingWorld, has been partnering with the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe for many years and helped some communities transition to projects that now run independently in the care of local people like Wellington.
“What I’ve realised in our partnership with UnitingWorld is how much you value the relationship with us – you’re not walking ahead of us but beside, always listening and providing support, “Tariro says. “I hope you will continue to pray for us as we help our communities stand up strong.”
MCZ is active in education with primary and secondary schools and community centres used for work among women, youth and non-church groups.
Through their development agency MEDRA, they foster livelihood opportunities, clean water and sanitation, disaster response and education.
They provide leadership and social cohesion, modelling care for the vulnerable and good citizenship in the context of social unrest and ineffective government.
UnitingWorld supports the church to develop leadership and institutional capacity, helping them fight people trafficking, protect children and vulnerable groups, as well as promoting gender equality and disaster readiness.
MEDRA longs to be more visible and to be able to grow in capacity to assist others. The gap between the need and the ability to respond is significant, and financial support plus leadership mentoring is critical.
The changing climate continues to make growing enough food really challenging. Please pray for a global effort to respond alongside local advances in drought resistant crops.
Pray for guidance among the leaders about where to invest their limited resources and how best to support congregations to take up their own local challenges.
We can all do simple things to stand with our Partners and show support
Think about your home and your church property. How welcome do you think people with disability feel in your community? Are there access ramps or strategies to help vision and hearing impaired people? Can you suggest changes that could be made?