How has the cholera outbreak deepened and how has it impacted your daily responsibilities?
Brown: It has made a bad situation worse. For World Vision’s health and water and sanitation teams, the cholera outbreak has dramatically increased their workload, as we are scaling up our efforts as much as possible thanks to generous donations from donors all over the world. A Cholera Response Team here in Zimbabwe has been assembled and will be working throughout the holidays. Since my responsibility is focused on food assistance, the cholera outbreak has actually only added slightly to my personal workload, insofar as we are feeding the majority of the population in the areas we are servicing. In our urban-based feeding programs at schools, hospitals and other institutions, we are now providing rations to people showing symptoms of cholera, increasing the caseload by a few hundred people overall. Compared to the 1.5 million people the World Vision-led USAID-funded consortium are feeding these days, this is relatively small, but still significant because it is literally life-saving assistance.
Please summarize the services World Vision provides in the country and estimate–as best as you can –the number of people it reaches.
Brown: Including our child sponsorship-funded development activities and our collaborative relief work including the C-SAFE consortium that World Vision leads, I would say during the height of this hungry season roughly 2 million Zimbabweans will have benefitted from our numerous programs.
How have the needs to the people you serve changed since the March election?
Brown: Needs have gotten much greater over the past several months. People who used to be able to feed themselves and send their children to school are now going hungry, with families being scattered in a desperate search for food.
Can you, and if so how, evangelize to people is such desperate situations?
Brown: World Vision demonstrates the love and compassion of Christ. People know World Vision is a Christian organization and when they see us putting in action the words of Jesus (“feed My sheep, pray for those who persecute you…”), they are seeing our faith in action.