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Catholic Hospital in Zimbabwe Turns to Agriculture Projects as Donor Funding Dwindles

Dr. Julia Musariri ventures into agriculture to support St. Albert’s Hospital. Credit: Catholic Churchnews Zimbabwe

Officials of St. Albert’s Hospital in Muzarabani in Zimbabwe’s Catholic Diocese of Chinhoyi have introduced agricultural projects to supplement their funds after experiencing shortages in donor funding.

In a Monday, October 11 report published by the Catholic Church News Zimbabwe, the hospital's medical superintendent, Sr. Julia Musariri, says the institution was struggling financially before venturing into agricultural projects. 

“I realized that there was only one funding partner left for the hospital when I took over its administration in 2012 and in 2014 CESVI (an Italian NGO) discontinued their support for us. We were left struggling as we depended too much on donor funding,” the physician has been quoted as saying.

The member of the International Medical Association (IMA) Sisters said after the withdrawal of the donor, procuring medicines and different equipment "was a nightmare."

"The hospital account was left with RTGS$258.00, completely next to nothing to do anything," Sr. Musariri says, and adds, "The situation was hopeless and she contemplated on the best way forward in meeting the health needs of the poor Muzarabani people."

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While exploring ways to overcome the financial challenge, the Nun says officials of the Catholic hospital encountered a farmer who "assisted them in establishing a poultry project with the help of their friends in the United States of America and Australia who provided funds for the birds and completion of the fowl run." 

She adds that after starting the poultry project, members of IMA decided to invest in other agricultural projects. 

“We then resuscitated the piggery project and in no time started a fish project that is already producing fish for sale," the Catholic Sister says. 

In partnership with aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales (CAFOD), the Catholic hospital leadership has also set up a second fish pond, she further says.

"The hospital has 3,000 layers’ chicken, which produce more than 70 crates of eggs a day,” Sr. Musariri has been quoted as saying.

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However, the Sister says, “St. Alberts’ Hospital is located in a very low-income area that they have to travel to Mt. Darwin, Rushinga or Mary Mount to sell the eggs while some are sold to the local community." 

IMA members are also rearing 50 goats of a mixed breed.

Apart from animal husbandry, they also grow vegetables, tomatoes, onions and sweet potatoes that benefit the hospital and members of the community.

“Although the projects are not very big, they are good enough to sustain us. We are thinking about increasing the number of doctors at the hospital and these projects are important in facilitating a top up on their salaries. This is the only way to go than to over rely on donors who are also overwhelmed," Sr. Musariri says. 

In the report, the medical doctor also challenges the leadership of the Catholic hospitals and other Church institutions in Zimbabwe "to use local resources to fundraise and to improve their service delivery to the communities that they serve."

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