The Reading Restoration of Human Rights Foodbank Fundraising day was indeed a day to remember. Members of ROHR from all over the country and invited guests descended on Reading, at the Pakistan Community Centre. By 5pm all were seated and the event began with the introduction of our first guest speaker, Councillor Ricky Duveen. Mr Mafokosho from ROHR Slough branch was the Master of Ceremonies for the day. Ricky Duveen highlighted the problems which Zimbabweans are currently facing. He confirmed that the situation in Zimbabwe was actually deteriorating and that more needed to be done. The oppressive regime of Robert Mugabe continues to be in power and the people continue to suffer and no one seems to have an immediate solution including all the factions of the MDC. The Councillor concluded by encouraging ROHR members to remain hopeful and to continue to grow their influence on the human rights front. The Councillor also commended the Reading Branch for fundraising for foodbanks. 

Eric Eluwasi shared how ROHR can move forward by creating a safe environment for all members to work in. Mr Eluwasi said leaders should sacrifice themselves for others and create a safe environment where followers can trust each other and cooperate. He emphasised that leadership was a choice not a rank and people follow leaders who inspire them and not those who manipulate them. “People follow leaders who sacrifice their self-interests for their followers”, he said.  

Then it was time for the Reading Chairperson Nicodimus Muganhu to take to the floor. He started by thanking those gathered for supporting the event. He went on to speak on the need to help and uplift the vulnerable in our communities. Mr Muganhu stated that as human rights activists we should be concerned about the poor, the marginalised, the voiceless and those being abused. We should highlight where there is no equality and work hard to have this addressed. He also urged other human rights activists to be more vigilant than before and to increase their level of human rights activism.

The event’s main speaker was ROHR President and Founder, Mr Ephraim Tapa. He commended Reading Branch for leading the way by setting a good example and showing the way by raising funds for the foobanks. He encouraged other branches to learn from such selfless efforts and inspiring work. He also commented that the spirit of sacrificing for others is required in ROHR and that members should sacrifice not only for other members but for the victims of human rights abuse. Mr Tapa then highlighted that unless the Zimbabwe’s community stood up to challenge the ongoing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, the hapless population would continue to suffer poverty, disease, torture and needless deaths. He added that the time had come for those in the diaspora to take a collective responsibility for the benefit of their home countries.

Councillor Betty Tickner lamented on how the media had shied away from the Zimbabwean problem. She said when she listened to the news today, it was all about Syria, Gaza, Iraq and Ebola. There was no mention of Zimbabwe in the media which was troubling. This situation is not favourable for Zimbabwean human rights activists. The Councillor commended the Reading Branch for their fundraising efforts for foodbanks. She commented that despite the problems most ROHR members face, it was surprising that they had actually gone to the extent of helping others within the community.

Mr David Kadzutu of Zimbabwe Yes We Can explained what his organisation represents. Zimbabwe Yes We Can gives all Zimbabweans hope that one day things will change for the better in Zimbabwe. He declared that there a better Zimbabwe will come but that it needed everyone to make this happen. “If all Zimbabweans put their heads together, they can change Zimbabwe”, he said. Mr Kadzutu called for more people to join forces with Zimbabwe Yes We Can.

ROHR Reading announced the launch of their branch Website. Please visit www.rohrreading.org.uk for more information. Following the speeches the party kicked off with music, food and dance. The raffle draws were held intermittently during the party. People ate and drank and carried lots of leftovers home. It was a good day for ROHR!

Eric Eluwasi, ROHR Reading Publicity and Information