Pastor Albert, a key partner in the Fund's feeding programme
Collectively the UK Trustees represent considerable experience of living and working in Africa, and Zimbabwe in particular. Two of the Trustees have served as mission partners in the country, appointed by the Methodist Church in Britain.
Rev Graham Shaw - Chair of Trustees
Graham was born and educated in Zimbabwe, returning to the country from Zambia as a mission partner of the Methodist Church in 1992. He served at All Souls Anglican-Methodist Church for just two years before being appointed to Hillside Methodist Church in Bulawayo where he remained for the next nine years. As Zimbabwe descended into lawlessness and the suffering increased he was closely involved, on the ground, with the setting up of ZVSF. In 2004 when the human rights situation was deteriorating Graham became engaged full-time in humanitarian and human rights’ work. In 2006 he moved to the UK and has retired to South Devon, hoping to devote more time to this and other transformative work in Zimbabwe.
Rev Graham Matthews - Trust Treasurer
Graham was born in London and after leaving school joined the John Lewis Partnership. He worked for this organisation for 16yrs, mainly in Personnel Management. In 1981 with June and their son Simon they emigrated to Zimbabwe,. They were based in Bulawayo as he worked for Edgars. The family worshipped at Hillside Methodist Church. His call to ordained ministry meant that he reluctantly had to return to England in 1983 to candidate. His desire was to return as a Mission Partner but he remained on the English Stations. Serving 13yrs in Devon; 3yrs in Lancaster and his final appointment for 11yrs as a Prison Chaplain in Perth Scotland.
Now retired to Holbury in Hampshire looking after the grandchildren is number 1 priority. He also volunteers for the local hospice supporting neighbours who visit people in their homes.
He was able to return to Zimbabwe in 1989 and then for a three month sabbatical looking after Hillside Methodist Church in 1993.
Dr Christopher Sworn - Trust Secretary
Chris Sworn worked for the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe as District Auditor for two years from 1975 to 1977. Most of his time was spent in rural circuits and in the Church's schools and lay centres. Since retiring from industry in 2010, he returned to Southern Africa and, as a volunteer, ran a training centre in Namibia for two years; during this time, he returned to Zimbabwe on two occasions. He brings deep concern for justice and development among African people to the work of ZVSF.
Our partners in Bulawayo, who work closely with the UK Trustees, operate through a team of trusted volunteers on the ground, including pastors and community leaders, living and working among the poorest of the poor.
ZVSF Partners in Bulawayo
Knowledge and Understanding
When the Zimbabwe Victims' Support Fund was started in 2002 none of those involved anticipated that the country would still be in deep crisis all these years later. In fact the suffering today is just as widespread and intense, and still there remain huge areas of desperate need which are not being met either by the United Nations or international aid organisations.
We recognise that knowledge and understanding of the situation in Zimbabwe is not generally made available to the public in the UK, as there are still severe restrictions preventing reporters from entering Zimbabwe. The ‘revival’ of the banks and promotion of tourism tends to convey the idea that ‘all is now well in Zimbabwe’, without reference to the vast majority (about 80%) without employment or income. Widespread poverty, hunger, disease and fear still have the upper hand. We therefore regard it as a high priority of ZVSF to keep donors informed of circumstances among Zimbabwe’s people and to engage churches and circuits, where we can, in understanding and responding to the suffering and need.
Responding To Need
We are profoundly grateful for the window of opportunity God has given us to meet some of the needs among Zimbabwe’s poor, making a real difference to the lives of many thousands of the most vulnerable people. We are also very appreciative of the amazing generosity of our donors who, by their sacrificial giving, sustain this pinprick of light on the dark canvas of disaster.
Greater stability in Zimbabwe’s banks has made it appropriate for ZVSF to seek charitable status in the UK, which was granted in 2012. The Registered Charity Number is 1145569. Donations, by those who are tax payers in the UK, can therefore be Gift Aided directly to the fund. See Support Us
Volunteers distribute maize meal, sometimes endangering their own safety, to some of Zimbabwe’s poor, vulnerable, displaced people, bringing them joy and relief!