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Solidarity with the Poor and Neglected: ZYCS Work Camp in Silobela, Zimbabwe

“What you have done to the least of my brothers and sisters,

You have done unto me…” (Matthew 25:40)

These words uttered by Jesus Christ came to life in the month of August after an initiative of  54 young people of the Zimbabwe Young Christian Students (ZYCS) who had quite a formative experience from the 4th to the 11th of August, when they came together with the mission of building a 3 roomed pigsty for Jairos Jiri Old People’s Home, an establishment that is a home to 20-25 elderly people living with different disabilities.

Zimbabwe Young Christian Students (ZYCS) is an ecumenical student’s association under the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) whilst under the stewardship of the Society of Jesus’ (Jesuits as they are commonly known) youth chaplaincy programme led by Fr Isheanesu Mugozhi SJ. The association is strong in Catholic schools in Gweru and Masvingo Diocese respectively. 

ZYCS every year organizes work camps where they identify communities in need, and they intervene in terms of what the community needs whilst giving young people an experience of building a skills repertoire in the service of those less fortunate where they are involved in marrying faith and living experience is what ZYCS does and is still offering to young people.

The charism of the group is motivated by the catholic social teachings of Solidarity and Preferential Option of the Poor. Their methodology of See, Judge Act and Reflect is instrumental in guiding their process of discernment on how they can best assist the communities they set out to serve. This edition of the National Work Camp was hosted by Gweru Diocese. Participants were accommodated at Loreto High School a Catholic Mission School in Silobela (an area 60 km away from Kwekwe) served by the Sacred Heart Brothers.

The ZYCS National work camp focuses on helping a community in need to become self-reliant and in this edition the ZYCS took the initiative to help establish a self-sustaining project of a pigsty that has 3 big rooms with the capacity of accommodating 8 pigs per room. The work camp was also an avenue of developing empathy and reflection in young people for the plight of the disadvantaged. Participants were encouraged to interact with the core members of Jairos Jiri Old People’s Home and have a deeper understanding of the people they were serving and their backgrounds.

work camp bonfire

Through the hard work and determination of the participants, the pigsty was finished a day earlier than anticipated which was extremely consoling for the organising team and the participants alike. The highlight of the experience was the work camp bonfire which was done at the end of every day. The bonfire was therapeutic in that students were able to share their experiences being guided by Ignatian Spirituality. Thereby reflecting as individuals and as a community through a guided Examination of Conscience (the Examen) or Ignatian Circles.

Fr Ashton Isheanesu Mugozhi SJ, presents a certificate to one of the students at the ZYCS National work camp

Appreciation goes to Gweru Diocese, that is the Bishop Rt Rev Rudolph Nyandoro for allowing the young people of ZYCS to put their faith into action through his blessing, the area chaplain Fr  Collins Wapwanyika for his assistance in the planning of the work camp, the Society of Jesus in the Province of South Africa for their support through the National Chaplain, Fr Ashton Isheanesu Mugozhi SJ, Headmaster of Loreto High School Br Mapiravana and his team for the hospitality and generosity they showed ZYCS during its stay at the mission, the national organising committee, all those who made the work camp a success and the community at Jairos Jiri that opened its doors to ZYCS. As St Ignatius of Loyola asks us to pray for the grace of generosity and to see God in everything, God’s presence was experienced through the work camp.

By, Dennis Owuoche

Communication and Research Officer

Ismael Matambura

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