My name is Paul Foreman and I want to blog about the people of Zimbabwe. I’m head of mission, so I spend much of my time close to government officials and sitting in meetings, but nevertheless there are extraordinary people all around – it is the contact with the ordinary people in our programmes, even if less frequent than I would like, that fuels the spirit and keeps the mind alert through too many complex negotiations and management meetings.
There are various stories about why MSF built a new clinic in Overspill, Epworth, and really they’re not all that relevant. The love in Zimbabwe for literal nomenclature says it all; a place that is officially named Overspill has a clear origin and purpose, and there was no clinic. Epworth is referred to as a ‘peri-urban’ suburb of Harare – implying (I assume) that it’s peripheral. That’s certainly true – it has grown out of the rocky hills about 15 km to the south-east of downtown Harare. Population of somewhere between 165,000 (the 2002 census figure ) and 420,000 – the upper estimate from some local officials who maybe have a vested interest in talking up the numbers, it is a cheap dormitory town where 10 dollars (US) per month will rent a room. The population of Epworth is mostly transitory – migrants from rural areas that seek employment in the city, or who are passing through, or who favour a residence with no official address, no street names, no house numbers. Epworth is a tough neighbourhood.