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Friday, May 17, 2013


Harsh decisions unfortunately, but a fresh approach is the way forward
By now all will be aware that the administration at Eastern Highlands Trust is undergoing a metamorphoses. Currently the Trust finds itself in a precarious financial situation for several reasons. Foremost of these are attributed to the cost of staffing and the aggravating and perennial problem of back-pay. In recent times we have followed a policy of retiring staff and not replacing them as part of cost cutting, but it has not been enough. Then there is the matter of bad debt or unpaid board and lodging, which is reaching alarming proportions. That is a delicate matter as you can imagine. Our other area of concern is our low occupancy in the “B” and “C” Schemes.
More vigorous
If this essential institution is to survive, and your committee are determine that it should, it was decided that there should be a more vigorous approach to management issues. This then would require the fresh thinking of a younger person, but with given targets. These targets must include a determined effort to increase our occupancy and the sale of cottages.
Both Gideon Mostert and Lyn Bezuidenhout have served the Trust faithfully and with devotion, but alas retirement is inevitable.
If it makes the committee’s decision to retire Gideon at this time seem less heartless then it must be said that the decision was considered prior to the senseless and violent knife attack on him, but nevertheless in cognizance of his recent heart attack and the need for him to rest and recover.
Further cost-cutting has also necessitated that Jan van Driel be retired. Maria, Jan’s wife is also retiring from her kitchen duties but due to ill health.
Lindy Botha joins the Trust as Administrator, initially for three-months, and she with Pat Riding will make up the administration. Di Nell will continue at reception. H2O
Lindy Botha joins the Trust
Born and bred in Zimbabwe Lindy was schooled mainly in Harare. Having trained originally as an Executive Secretary, with time and experience she later moved into
She has catering experience having run the kitchen at the Hillside Golf Club and more recently she has been caring for the elderly over-
Lindy Botha
seas.. Lindy says she is thrilled to be joining Eastern Highlands Trust and happy that her new position encompasses those areas. She is also a qualified swimming coach and has been involved with the Border Dolphins Swimming Club for many years.
Married to Bruce for 28 years they have two sons, Hayden and Evan, who live in Bristol in the UK. After a stint in South Africa the family moved to Mutare 17 years ago, so relative newcomers. She is looking forward to and welcomes the new challenge.
Background to the current financial situation
From Greg Langlois
1 The Trust is a non-profit making organization, established to provide homes and care for the elderly.
2 It tries to be self sufficient and raises funds from the hire of its assets
3 The assets are property and in the main, the residents stay in such property, the funds primarily come from the residents
4 As such there is a constant conflict between charging the residents as little as possible and maintaining standards of care as high as possible
5 This leads to a financial situation where we are always on the edge, balancing income and expenditure
6 In 2012, there was a ruling that wages had to be increased retroactively, largely as a result of the entire industry being put on a different pay scale. This meant our costs increased considerably while the income related to those costs had already been charged. The amount involved was in excess of $30 000. Management negotiated a staggered payment of this liability
7 Since the beginning of this year, there has been a decline in payment of rentals from residents
8 In addition, where the effect of the back pay was supposed to end in February, for various reasons, it has continued into March and April.
9 The combination of these factors has meant the fine balance between income and expenditure has tipped against the Trust
Possible solutions
10 Increase in income – it is felt the area where rentals may be increased is in the occupation of the Lodge and frail care facilities. Management is looking at that
11 Stopping the amounts due to the Trust from growing and strict collection of monies outstanding. This has its problems, but will be vigorously pursued
12 Staff costs represent approximately 75% of total costs and are the obvious area to look at in terms of reducing costs
13 Donor funding – already the Trust is the grateful recipient of some unbelievably generous donations, without which, the elderly it cares for would be in dire straits. The Trust is most grateful for this and is trying to extend the base of such donors
14 Encouraging non-residents to invest in cottages. As the ‘purchase’ of a cottage merely entitles the owner to a period of rent free accommodation, this would not be diminishing the assets, but would have the benefit of some lump sum funds immediately available to the Trust
Unfeasible options
15 Closure of one or two areas of the Trust negates the objectives of the Trust and this would have to be a last resort
16 In addition, it is not a practical short term solution. The reason is that staff would be entitled to retrenchment packages which would be out of reach of the Trust’s
resources, particularly as it would coincide with loss of income from that area.
The dumb burglar who wished he was wearing a cricket box
The tale I am about to relate reaffirms the notion that a women faced with adversity or should I say an adversary are equal to men in testing circumstances. The story, however, does also issue a warning to would be housebreakers who would mess with elderly gentlemen.
The events took place one night in the middle of February and concerned an intrepid and stupid would-be burglar. With the prior knowledge that a goodly percentage of those occupying a townhouse complex in Murambi fell into the senior citizen category and moreover, that at least one of the occupants was away, it must have occurred to him that the venue would provide easy pickings . Hah!
The vacant house attracted his attention in the first instance and he gained entrance by way of forcing the puny burglar bars. Once inside he ransacked the place to
Continued from previous page
the degree that the it looked like Sadam’s secret service had been at work. You see he was only looking for cash, and finding none, exited taking with him by way of a consolation prize, the only item that appealed to him –a pair of trainers.
Nothing daunted, he decided to visit the house next door in the hope that the rewards there would be greater. So placing the trainers on the ground he applied the same house-breaking technique. This house was occupied by one of the senior members of this little community, who was awakened by the cretin as he tackled his task, and who rising from his bed enquired from the widow “what the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Give me money or I will kill you,” declared the burglar from where he now stood a few paces away in the garden.
Discretion the better part of valour
By now the house-owner was armed with a .38 Special. “And if you try I will kill you,” he responded.
In a state of obvious disbelief, the burglar advanced on the window, whereupon the response was the previously promised shot. Bang!
It was only at this point that the man must have reached the decision that he had erred in his assessment of his target, and furthermore while all parts of his anatomy were still intact, he must have concluded that discretion was the better part of valour, and so abandoning the trainers on the lawn he departed the scene.
Guilty of stupidity but not short of perseverance, and with nothing to show for his nocturnal escapades, the burglar made his way to Eastern Highlands Trusts’ Murambi Gardens cottages. It was here that stupidity once again came to the forefront when he directed his attention at Peter and Yvonne Froggart’s cottage.
Cat got a wiff
It seems the cat got a wiff of him first as he went about his work trying to jimmy his way in, and let out a warning hiss. This must have registered somewhere in Yvonne’s sleep bubble. Then followed the rustling of the curtains. Yvonne suddenly reared up, and exploded from the matrimonial bed like the return swing on a batwing door and delivered a mighty kick to the nether regions of the surprised and hapless intruder. This action was, considering her so recent slumbers, accompanied by a spontaneous and enviable string of profanity, according to husband Peter.
Now, pressing her advantage, she propelled the poor man backwards, and out the front door, which she then slammed and locked leaving the by now bewildered man gaping in astonishment.
Yvonne tells me modestly, she is not sure at which point she awoke in this escapade. H2O As life affects our people
Not only the residents of Eastern Highlands Trust, but the community as a whole, were shocked and saddened by the senseless attack on manager Gideon Mostert in February. That a negative response for an advance on wages should provoke such a frenzied reaction is unbelievable and must be the act of a de-arranged mind or one on drugs. That Mozzie survived the attack, coming as it did, shortly after a heart attack, and is now well on the road to a full recovery, says much for his extraordinary powers of recovery and his great faith in his maker.
*Di Nell has been re-covering in Frail Care with blood pressure/stress. * Lyn Bezuidenhout is having an eye op in Harare after consulting with a visiting UK eye specialist who is in Zim at present. We wish both a speedy recover. * Joey Coates, Helen Valintine's mum passed away a few nights ago after a long battle with cancer. She was part of the Trust admin team for many years. *Betty Olsen (Murambi resident) is in frail care with high blood pressure! *Brian Tough (Park Cottage resident - husband of Val) recovering in Frail Care after a fall, *Fred Heyne (Murambi resident - husband of Rennie) having care in Frail Care. CONTINUED ON FOLLOWINGT PAGE
CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE *Mary Gordon, daughter of Bill and Mary of Murambi cottages is visiting from the UK, Jill Wylie damaged her wrist when she fell in her garden. *EHT Bus off to Harare with residents to visit John Evans for hearing appointments. Thanks to Ann Young for her support and organising the trip. This service will be extended we hope. Cynthia Hoffman and Judy Fernandes have been to see Annabel Hayter at Borradaile Trust. * The new "Love Birds" John Phillps and Hazel Edwards have found companionship and are planning to tie the knot on the 27 July. Everyone is delighted for them. Especially Hazel's surrogate mothers - Yvonne Froggart, Anita Holloway and Elma van der Walt. * Bruce Mennel and his wife Secil, have brought their newest grand-daughter Erin – five months old, to visit Thurza Mennell. Their two and a half year old son Edward, is fascinated with the delights of the garden and all the sun shine, lawns, insect and bird life. The monkeys are also a huge thrill to see. A whole new world after their London flat. * Pastor Attie Botha of Zimbabwe Pensioner Support Fund, who supplies the regular food parcel deliveries to our cottage residents and our Strickland kitchen, has just undergone his second knee replacement op and is recovering at home in Devils Kloof, We wish him a speedy and successful recovery. * We had another successful Bingo - thanks to Brenda Taylor and Les Alber,y who turns 90 on May 22. *Monty Prior has a fantastic survival story after successful medical treatment to his kidneys and heart despite repeated heart attacks and a stroke. He is a living miracle. *Hedy Johnstone has recruited the services of Alida du Toit and Perry Chan Jack to assist with the Sunday Chapel services roster. Rev Donald Walker has had his work permit revoked and is no longer able to assist. We thank him and Judith who played the piano.
Braai at Murambi Cottages
From Rob Truscott
A gathering of Murambi Gardens folk enjoy a braai provided by Jason Vosloo as a sympathy gesture to his grandparents after their son Dannie and his family had left to live in Australia.
Much enjoyed by everyone under the Ash tree on our wonderful green.
Art classes Hedy Johnstone started her first art class with the help of Anne Guild in April. She says, “It was a ‘therapy’ type of class. Some enjoyed getting their fingers into the paste and making patterns, but some of them did not! The patterns they made were lovely and can be used (amongst other things) as wrapping paper. I think there were about 10 or 11 ladies and one man in the first class.”
Dot Springer observing says the participants “were like a bunch of kids playing in the mud. It was touching to watch.”
Hedy hopes to get other helpers in to expand the scope. Anyone out there wishing to help contact Hedy.
Sharon Bilong’s special rocks
Sharon Bilang of Murambi Garden cottages has a bird bath, as do many of her neighbours, but what makes hers different are the two rocks that rest therein. These are rocks with a difference, they are known as Stromatolites, and they originate from a limestone quarry on Huntsman Farm, which is close to Turk Mine in the Inyati District of Matabeleland. In better days this was the Williams’ family farm.
This is the only known deposit of Stromatolites in Zimbabwe, although they are found in Zambia and South Africa, as well as other parts of the world.
What makes these rocks so special you ask? The simple answer is that they are the ancient remnants of early life. Stromatolites are in fact laminated, sedimentary fossils formed from layers of blue-green algae (also known as blue-green bactaria or cyanobacteria.) Remember, bactaria contains organisms and organisms are living things. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE
Stromatolites date back 3.3 billion to 3.5 billion years - the earth was said to have originated about 4.5 million years ago. Those found on Sharon’s family farm are estimated by scientists, who have visited the site, to be between 2.5 billion and 2.8 billion years old.
In size, Stromalites can vary from a few centimetres to several metres.
Apart from their scientific importance, these rocks serve no purpose other than their ornamental appeal. Sharon retrieved them from the farm for sentimental reasons, they would have been of greater proportion had she been able to convince Cyril that those she had originally selected were not too big to put into the car. Sharon had to settle for two smaller rocks, but at least
they have each other for company and are amply fed on algae from the birdbath and the occasional deposits of bird droppings.
If of a night you are passing her cottage, pause and listen carefully, you may be fortunate and hear the rocks whispering to each other. H2O
Laison Meetings
The monthly laison meetings between the Chairman/committee and the residents are proving to be a useful communication forum and a good rapport has been established.
From Sue Gale
Never a dull moment at Park Cottages. March saw new applicants arriving, but sadly the residents rejected them - why you ask? Well, approximately 50 Syllaserrata crabs were not welcome company. The story behind the visit from the beginning is that a Mozambican had brought them into Zimbabwe to sell but someone stole the boxes off his bike whilst he was at a take-away. The boxes were then dumped in Fourth Street near the Army Hospital.
At half past four that morning Safeguard Security woke Di Nell and said that some strange animals were coming in through the gate. They were unable to describe them, probably because they have never seen anything like them in their lives before – being creatures of the sea and mangrove areas. Di, with the help of the security men, pushed them into a ditch until it was light enough to decide what to do with them.
Later, Jill Wiley and Di collected the new arrivals, and put them into Jill’s pen at the back of her cottage. Now what to do? There was no one available at SPCA to advise so Mike Hitchman was called in. It was decided that they could not be let loose as this could be environmentally unfriendly; it was impossible to return them to the sea, and as the crabs were already badly stressed, it was kinder to destroy them. This was finally accomplished at midday. In the meantime Di had gone into Fourth Street to look for more and discovered a plastic bag full of dead crabs. Fortunately she came across a City of Mutare worker, who agreed to get rid of the carcases. Crows usually eat anything, but strangely they were not interested in those crabs that had been crushed by cars on the tar.
Annabel Hayter is now happily living at Borradaile Trust, Marondera, and is desperate for visits from Mutare. She has settled down well and being Annabel, is making friends fast. More recently, she attended a Mutare Girls/Boys High reunion at the Trust, and met lots of people she had not seen for years.
Christine Currin has settled down well in Annabel’s former cottage, and she and the cats are becoming part of our community. Mr Amm, although renting, has not yet moved in next door to Christine. Cont on following page
From previous page
Heather Gardiner spent two weeks in Harare looking after her son. Her daughter-in-law accompanied Brian to India for a heart operation. Remarkably Brian’s trip was short as he only needed stents inserted into the arteries. Heather has an interesting tale to relate about Brian’s experience.
Brian Tough admitted himself to Murambi Gardens Clinic with problems with his legs. He then spent about ten days at Frail Care and is now home and trying hard to follow his doctor’s advice – walk every day!
Di Nell also spent several days in Frail Care. Come on people, winter hasn’t really started.
Mary Veljaccic has spent a couple of weeks at Frail Care as she was unable to put the eye drops in her eyes after having had an operation. Mostly Park Cottages residents have had a very fit and healthy few months, aside from the old aches, pains and colds.
We welcome everyone home and please look after yourselves.
Good news about a former resident – Hazel Edwards, is engaged to John Phillips. We wish them great happiness and a wonderful life together at Strickland Lodge.
The sad news is that Terry Valentine lost his mother recently. It is not often a resident loses a parent and we all send condolences to Terry and Irene. Sylvia May has had to attend several sad occasions in Bulawayo and only returned home a few days ago.
May and June will see the reintroduction of our gatherings in the circle and outings. Several residents regularly organise private parties and other gatherings. We are all one community and it is good to see residents interacting.
On 1 May 2013 we had a gathering in the circle for an American Hot Dog lunch with salads and puddings – the latter very important! Because of the cold wind, the majority of residents had retreated to their homes by 3 pm – and even the old stalwarts had returned home by 4. It was a pleasant day again, and we do so thank Yvonne Froggatt and her special donors that allow us to have these treats.
Bill McLean is expecting his son and family to arrive on the 16th May – his wife and children never having visited Africa before it is going to be a lovely two weeks for the whole family.
EULOGY by Ann Guild – 5TH December, 2012
Audrey was born in Bulawayo 1929 to Betty and Andrew Forrest. The couple moved around Southern Rhodesia, as it was then, until finally settling in Mutare, where Audrey attended school at the Convent and Mutare Girls High. Two of her contemporaries were Pauline Van Lillyveld and Daphe Balance.
She had two older sisters, Daphne and Betty-Ann.
Her parents divorced sometime during her high school years and her mother later married D.H. Martin who was a part-owner of the Vaudeville Cinema which used to be where Pizza Inn and Chicken Inn are now.
She studied commercial at school and later moved back to Bulawayo where her sister, Betty-Ann was teaching. She worked for an Insurance Broker. Arthur Farrel was her boss. After five years she moved into the legal world where she remained for the next 40 years, interrupted only briefly when she worked for the Blood Bank in Bulawayo.
She eventually retired at the age of 72. Audrey was excellent at her job – in the conveyancing department of Ben Baron and Partners. She was well known and admired for her honestly and integrity in the legal world. Among those who knew her was the late Cyril Bilang and Sharon, his wife, who remembers being at Rhodes House with Audrey when they were young and single.
Audrey met Guy in the early 50’s and they were married in 1955 and remained married for 50 years until Guy died suddenly only months after their 50th wedding anniversary. They had three children Ann, David and Judy who in turn married and produced five grand- children. Ann is married to Lindsay Guild and has William and Jenny. David is married to Carol and has Alexander, Judy married PJ Spafford and they have Tricia and Douglas.
Audrey moved back to Mutare after Guy died and stayed next door to Ann and Lindsay for a few years before her health began to fail her and she moved to Strickland Lodge.
She will be remembered by all for her wicked sense of humour and her radiant smile.
National Wash Day
This morning I went to the loo and I had just sat down when my cell phoned bleeped to tell me there was a message. I thought I had better check it to see if it might be my daughter sending me a message. To my surprise on the screen was a message from Econet saying, “This is National Wash Day, please was your hands when finishing what you are doing.”
I was gob smacked. How the hell did they know I was on the loo? They must be damned clever, or is it a case of big brother watching?
Submitted by Terry Adaway
Your contributions to The Senior Citizen are encouraged and welcome. Remember it is compiled to keep you informed and, let outsiders in on what is happening. Contributions can be emailed to Tony at or they can be left with Di Nell at Reception.

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