When I read this piece about the abduction of Zimbabwean human rights defender Jestina Mukoko, my eyes filled with tears. I don’t know her, but I wish I did. I want to know bold people who are willing to risk their lives for the sake of peace. I want to be inspired by them. I want to learn from them, even if the learning calls me out of my comfort zone.
I emailed my friend Pugeni a few days ago (after writing this post) and his reply haunts me. I would like to share it with you, but the last thing I would do would be to risk his safety by publicly posting words that could potentially get him into trouble. Just know that it is both heartbreaking and passionately inspiring. One of the stories he told was of a woman who sold her last cow to buy food for her family. It took a week to get payment, and by the time she was paid, the value had deflated so much that all she could afford was a small bag of sugar. (If you’d like to read more about what he said, feel free to email me.)
It feels so impossible to know what to do in light of these incredibly big problems. Some of you expressed those sentiments on my last blog post about this. I wrestle with this every day and I don’t know the answer. But because we can’t just sit on our hands, let’s try to do SOMETHING. Here’s a little start:
1. Go to this human rights site and send the email they have posted to demand the release of Jestina Mukoko. Will it do any good? I have no idea, but at least it feels like something.
2. Visit sites like this to learn more about peace activism in Africa.
3. Find good organizations that are at least doing a pebble’s worth of good. We can’t solve all of the world’s problems, but at least we can make sure a few people in Zimbabwe get food. You’re welcome to make a contribution to the organization I work for. If you designate it to Zimbabwe, there’s a pretty good chance my friend Pugeni will be involved in the work of distributing it. I can promise you that few people have as much integrity as he does and he will do everything in his power to get the food to people who need it.
4. If you believe in a higher power, pray, pray, PRAY. “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.”
5. Consider sending letters to your government to urge them to seek peace for the people of Zimbabwe. We can’t just let this happen. Surely there must be some kind of global voice that would have enough influence that Mugabe would have no choice but to step down. The Canadian government has already issued a statement about their concern for Zimbabwe, but maybe we need to push them to do and/or say more.
I feel an ache in my heart to go to Zimbabwe, even if all I could do would be to throw my arms around Pugeni and say “Courage, my friend. Courage.”