I met Prisca a couple of months ago, at a craft market here in Pretoria. I was looking for gifts to bring home to family and friends in Australia, and happened to see the little beaded angels Prisca had made. I needed a fairly large quantity of them, and Prisca only had a few at the time, but she said that if I needed more, I could put in an order. It seemed like a pretty good idea to me, so I told her the number that I needed, and asked if I could give her half of the money as an intial deposit, and pay the rest when I came to collect the dolls.
Prisca was shocked. “Would you really trust me with the money?” she asked. It didn’t seem like such a big deal to me, but apparently it was for her. This little act of respect opened up a door of friendship for us, and we would catch up with each other every so often at the craft market and have a bit of a chat. She was pregnant at the time, so of course, like real girls, we would also talk about babies! I was surprised that after only a few conversations, Prisca was telling people I was her best friend.
Prisca is from Zimbabwe. There are an estimated 2 to 3 million Zimbabweans in South Africa. Some of them are legal immigrants, but many are not. With the situation as it is in Zimbabwe at the moment, many more refugees than ever before are slipping across the border to have a shot at a better life in South Africa (I know one lady who swam across a crocodile infested river, with her baby tied to her back!).
However, South Africa isn’t aways a place of safety for these people. After a few initial acts of violence a week ago, xenophobic violence against Zimbabweans and other foreigners has escalated and claimed 23 lives. 13000 people have had to flee their homes for safety. Some parts of South Africa have begun to look like war-zones, and many people fear that the the problem is going to worsen before it goes away. Perhaps it is not surprising then, that people like Prisca, so far way from family and friends in their homeland, and then met with such hostility in their new home, may feel a little isolated at times and cling to any offer of friendship extended to them.
Prisca phoned me the other day to say that she had delivered a healthy aby girl. Guess what she named her?
How hilarious. I have a little Zimbabwean baby named after me!
Both Mum and little baby Belinda were doing well when I went to visit today. We have decided to try and catch up every Tuesday. I think she is struggling a bit, at home with the baby all day, in as tiny, dirty room in a flat she shares with ten other people. Her husband called on the phone in the middlke of my visit, just to say how much it meant to him that I would visit his wife. Please pray with me for this family, that he would protect them in light of all of the violence going on in South Africa at the moment, and also that I would be able to effectively communicate to them about Jesus, the friend who is “closer than a brother”.
Leviticus 19:33 – 34