Communications with our friends situated at co-operative Artpeace Zimbabwe is dire
The only way we can keep in touch and receive photos in beleaguered Zimbabwe is through mobile phones. Over the years 3 – 4 year old mobiles were purchased used and unlocked via Ebay or gifted by friends. A mobile phone to an artist is not a luxury item but an essential tool in sending photos of his/her latest stone sculptures to the UK for perusal. The best pieces are then chosen, and a courier found to take them to Southwark Cathedral for sale – a vital source of income as they receive no support from the state. Unemployment runs at 90%. The artists have no expensive monthly rental contract but buy 48 hour parcels of data for a couple of dollars.
However, the big problem is that these phones have now reached the end of their lives and the cost of a minor repair can average 25US$ +, way beyond their means. Mobiles are so useful for keeping in touch with relations in rural areas. The artists go to elaborate lengths to charge their mobiles often via a satelite module hooked somehow onto an old car battery etc. Many have no plug in points.
With inflation running at 800% the artists cannot afford basic items like sugar or bread. Corruption is rife in government, police, army and judiciary circles. The mass protest planned for the 31 July never took place. The government shut down the capital Harare in order to halt planned opposition protests. Covid 19 is used as a pretext for clamping down on civil society with a curfew between 6pm and 6am.
In the run up to the demonstrations, innocent men and women were beaten by the army and police. It is only their faith that frankly keeps them going plus support from Southwark Cathedral and other churches.
Should any kind reader have recently upgraded their mobile perhaps they would consider gifting it to the group along with the charger and arrange for phone to be unlocked – this is important!
Moto G and Samsung smart phones appear the most robust and for some reason phones appear problematic but any donation of a unlocked handset in good condition will help.
Should you be able to donate please either drop off your mobile handset at the Cathedral Welcome Desk situated at the main entrance or contact John Simpson at URC Walton on Thames by email
Southwark Cathedral in conjunction with St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Walton on Thames is supporting Artpeace a cooperative of highly talented stone sculptors from Zimbabwe.
Made homeless by government agencies, these artists lost everything but are now able to continue their work in safety at Silveira House a registered charity near Harare, run by the Jesuits.
These amazing scupltures are availabe to buy from the Cathedral shop and proceeds from sales are sent quickly, direct and in full to the artists; virtually the sole income from their art going a long way towards supporting their extended families of around 400 people, many of whom live in rural areas.
Zimbabweans are amongst the world’s top sculptors and some of the artists have served apprenticeships with famous first generation masters.
Their art in various coloured stones and carved entirely by hand using simple tools is fit to grace any gallery or home.