Good morning, it’s Paul here.
(all the below written the night before)
Many thanks to Graham for holding the fort with such aplomb. This has given me a smashing break, including being Uncle Paul for this week, enjoying every moment of my niece’s graduation, and my nephew’s fantastic progress in the family tradition of music. A lovely cluster of family birthdays, and parties, certainly gave me a much-needed boost, after a pretty miserable time with my stock-picks in the last year.
You have to roll with the punches in life, and this is a walk in the park compared with 2008.
I think about all the people I met in Zimbabwe in Feb 2019, literally every day. The situation there is getting worse by the day, as the latest currency (called RTGS, or bond notes) is devaluing rapidly. That makes my shrinking shares portfolio feel literally insignificant.
It’s long overdue for me to do something meaningful. So I’ve decided to raise £100-200k for emergency help, for the destitute in Zimbabwe, to be distributed through ZANE. I met almost all their workers in Zimbabwe, and can vouch for the decency amp; diligence of everyone. It’s a Christian charity network, that helps the poorest of the poor. I’m not religious myself, but I saw how people in desperate circumstances do cling onto religion as the only hope they have. So I found it moving when each meeting or meal, had a prayer before amp; afterwards. Maybe I don’t need prayers, as my life is relatively comfortable?
I’ve come up with a way of magnifying donations. Here’s the idea;
1) Individual donations via a JustGiving page I’ll set up
2) Sponsors amp; Donors (individual amp; corporate) who pledge to match every donation £ for £ (I’ve already got one very generous individual who has pledged £3k, and one corporate that has said they will contribute at least £1k). This is before a proper fundraising effort, which I’ll get busy doing over the summer. PRs, brokers, and small caps, please get in touch if you would like to contribute.
3) ZANE matching – I met with Tom Benyon, the founder of ZANE, who liked my matching idea so much, he has pledged that ZANE itself will match all the above donations £ for £ .
Therefore, every £1, that UK investors donate to this appeal, will QUADRUPLE (plus Gift Aid), in terms of money that will go directly to help people in distress, in Zimbabwe. 10% for admin seems reasonable to me, so I hope that’s OK.
I spent over a week, observing ZANE’s operations in early 2019. It’s no exaggeration to say that it was life-changing for me, making me realise how molly-coddled my own life is.
I’d like to raise money for an emergency ZANE appeal, as follows;
Audiologist salary at Harare Hospital – I spent a morning at this facility, run by WizEar, and it treats 150 children every week (ENT). We can help the whole facility run, by funding the trained audiologist from South Africa. This is a gap in their funding. German funds fitted out the clinic, for about $250k, but it has a small running cost shortfall. We could fund that.
All the staff came in, on their day off, to see ZANE trustees, I met them all – their passion is obvious. A small amount of money will go such a long way here, in keeping this clinic open. The hospital had not had running water for 3 months – that’s how bad things are.
Club Foot correction – a partner programme – just click on this link to see how a small cost intervention, early on, transforms a child from being a lifelong cripple, to being normal. It’s breath-taking. A brilliant UK surgeon set up this programme, and ZANE partners him. Brilliant teamwork.
Womens’ Refuge – another project which I visited. Women who have been traumatised in ways which were kept from visitors, but which dawned on me, when I heard first hand accounts of out-of-control army units, rampaging through the poorest areas, tearing families from their homes, and subjecting them to unimaginable horrors. Art, and seamstress type work is done, along with counselling. Hand-made products such as greeting cards are sold through charity shops.
Pop-up schools – ZANE has funded amp; set up small classrooms, in church halls, etc, in the poorest areas. This has great potential, and could help many disadvantaged children catch up with schooling. Women are trained to become teachers.
Pensioners living in abject poverty – I visited 5 care homes, and attended 4 other events, in my time in Zimbabwe. I saw how ZANE helps the most destitute pensioners, many of whom would otherwise die, in terrible circumstances (without basic nutrition amp; medical care), if ZANE was not there to be the helper of last resort.
ZANE keeps alive about 4,000 pensioners, with very basic food amp; medical help. I met several hundred of these old people, and they generally took my hand, and quietly said “Thank you”. To every person, I listened to their life stories, and said that I would tell people back in the UK, and we would help them more. These were hard-working, self-sufficient, people. They don’t ask for help, it’s the last resort. Many are ex-services (Crown), or war widows. We have a duty to help these people.
I have no connection with Zimbabwe whatsoever. ZANE helps pensioners of all backgrounds. Having met many of these forgotten people, I feel so passionate about trying to help them, with small grants through ZANE.
Discretionary fund – one of the most moving parts of my trip to Zimbabwe, was the AGM, where each ZANE staffer gave a speech about everything they had been dealing with. Nobody cried. Everyone came close. I felt so privileged to be part of this amazing group of kind, passionate people, trying to help the poorest of the poor, with a very limited budget.
Experiencing this for myself, it struck me that we need some discretionary funds. Maybe we could provide that? ZANE staff on the ground know who needs the help, and I’ve heard numerous cases of how lives have literally been saved, by ZANE providing some diabetes or asthma medicine, that otherwise would not be available, and the dignified OAPs would suffer, and even die quietly. I talked to an old soldier, who had a boil on his neck that was the size of a tennis ball. It must have hurt him a lot, but he didn’t mention it once. I winced just looking at it – something that in our world would be routinely removed.
These are wonderful, dignified, old people, of every background and ethnicity, in Zimbabwe. The visit touched my heart, and I hope that the due diligence I did on the ground (I paid for my own flights – ZANE insistence, and I was happy to do so) – might stimulate some interest from UK investors?
I thought that, rather than branding a fundraising with anything, we might call it “UK Investors amp; Companies, helping Zimbabwe”. What do you think? All money put through ZANE.
I spoke to my broker today, and he’s happy to sponsor with at least £1k, hopefully more.
Companies, and wealthy individuals, please get in contact, if you would like to help, with a sponsorship arrangement, matching donations from smaller investors. Guideline sponsorship from individuals and companies would be c.£3k+
I’m happy to publicise sponsors, or if you prefer, it can be anonymous. Every penny will help someone in desperate circumstances in Zimbabwe receive life-saving, means-tested help. the great thing with ZANE is that all the infrastructure already exists. So any additional money we can raise, goes straight over the top, directly to people in Zimbabwe who need it for basics.
Between us, I reckon we should be able to raise £100k+ by the end of 2019, and that will literally save a lot of lives.
I appreciate many of you have your own charities already. The reason I’m so passionate about ZANE, is because I saw it on the ground, and can vouch for the amazing work ZANE does,
And I donate c.£3k p.a. myself already. ZANE needs monthly donations really, as then the money can be planned amp; distributed, because the commitments to recipients are ongoing, not one-offs.
Right, on to small cap shares on Thursday morning (I wrote all the above on Weds evening) ….
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