Below is a short story written by a good friend of ours, who fairly recently returned to Zimbabwe with her husband and their young daughter after living for almost ten years in the UK. I thought that it would be of interest and provide inspiration to those who, like us are also considering doing the same thing:
Returning to Zimbabwe
“Didn’t think the day would ever come”…how aptly my mum’s SMS had echoed my own sentiment… After 9 years and 10 months, my husband and I had decided to return from the comfort and security of the UK to our beloved homeland, Zimbabwe, our primary motivation being to live closer to family.
Strange as it may seem, it took as much as two years for me to feel settled again, however, I finally have a wonderful sense of peace about our decision. I felt it was important for us to be clear about our priorities and goals from the outset, in order to remain focused when the going got tough! We were also forced to accept that we were going back to a different Zimbabwe from the place we had left behind in 2000.
Our life now is a far cry from the ‘rat race’ in which we once took part and we are extremely grateful for the bright sunshine each morning, the ease of getting to and from work (once you’ve mastered the art of dodging the potholes, of course), and the ease with which we socialise with friends during the week.
Re-emigrating wasn’t as straightforward as one might have imagined, although we had anticipated as much, bearing in mind my husband no longer had a ‘Returning Resident’ stamp in his British passport. After three trips to the Immigration department in just two days, we came to the conclusion that perhaps using a facilitator to apply for his Residence Permit would be best after all! At this point I wish it was as easy for us as it was for my cousin and her husband back in America as the immigration process and the social security card replacement – online-application did not have them making even half the effort my husband and I are making. To cut a very long story short, US$2,160.00 poorer and two months later, we eventually tasted success…in the form of a visa…valid for a year! The second time round was no different, however, after countless visits over the course of 6 months, we managed to secure a visa valid to October 2013.
We experienced similar delights with the shipping agents as we had shipped a container with our twincab and other personal effects. I guess you could say I became extremely well acquainted with the ZIMRA office in town and at the container depot in the industrial sites at Workington, oh yes, and the little first floor office on the corner of Angwa and South Avenue which had a photocopier (seemingly gold dust here!) After 3 days of tooing and froing, we eventually drove our truck and possessions home and what a delight that was;-)
Strangely, house prices in Harare have continued to rise despite the economic situation and with the lack of availability of affordable mortgage deals, it is unlikely that we will be able to buy a house. We didn’t have a lot of money saved up before our return, and it’s near impossible to accumulate any savings here, what with astronomic school fees (in excess of US$2000 per term at private senior schools) and rents (averaging US$1500 per month). Well paying jobs are like diamonds in the rough too. We have a couple of friends who bought and sold houses in the UK, thereby enabling them to purchase property in Zimbabwe, which would seem like the best way to go…but it’s all about what’s important to you, I guess!
On the bright side, you’re able to buy almost anything here, at a price, and investment is slow but steady. Sam Levy’s Village in Borrowdale continues to be a little gold mine, with several new restaurants and shops. The Zimbabwe Mall project is set to commence in 2013.
I feel extremely blessed to be able to bring up my little girl in Zimbabwe. I dread to think how I’d cope without her grandparents, who provide a wonderful source of support to us, but also lavish Kiera with love and attention…and gifts! The climate lends itself to raising children, and Kiera spends many a morning or afternoon pottering outdoors, playing in her sandpit or exploring the wonder of creation in the garden. She’s even started to imitate various bird calls now! Off course, a swimming pool fence is a must for added peace of mind! ‘Gogo’, our maid, is an additional blessing, especially when I want to bath in peace, or if I need to nip out to the shops or do some chores whilst Kiera is sleeping. I’m not quite sure how I’d manage in the first world now;-)
ZimbabaNEWS – Zimbabwe’s First Parenting Website
When my daughter was just a wee babe, I had to find out about products and services for babies by word of mouth, or through my own enquiries, and I often wished there’d been one central point to access this sort of information! Hence, I decided to introduce my weekly email newsletter, ZimbabaNEWS, especially for parents with small children, and a couple of months later, I launched my website (ZimbabaNEWS).
Of particular importance to me, is to try and help those families who have children with health conditions or disabilities, by providing them with a source of information, hence I have dedicated a page on the website to Support Organisations. I’d love to continue developing the website to become a ‘one stop shop’ for parents of babies and/or small children in Harare.
I recently introduced a Discussion Forum page, as one of my dreams is for the site to become a support forum, where parents feel comfortable sharing their experiences with one another, and they can draw encouragement from other people in the same boat as them, when they need it most!
I also have a blog where I share my personal experiences, and I have just created a page on Facebook. If you’d like to sign up to receive our newsletter, all you have to do is email ‘hello’ to [email protected]