Barry Barnes retired in June 2012. The FoMRCH executive committee greatly appreciated his regular reports and personal contact with the home. His guidance was invaluable over the years and we miss his presence and support in our continued work for the home.
While working for Action for Children he helped set up a regional forum in South Africa, supporting it for 8 years, so that heads of residential children’s homes could meet regularly 3-4 times a year and share advice and good working practice in childcare. Rev Margaret Mawire, present head of MRCH and Zimbabwe National Director attends these and catches up at the same time with Astonishment Mapurisa now doing similar work in Johannesburg.
In Barry’s own words:
“After almost thirteen years of involvement with MRCH, it is hard to believe that, after my June visit, I won’t be making those regular trips to Zimbabwe, braving the occasional vagaries of the airport and anxiously hoping that either my cousin or Astonishment will be on the other side of the sliding door at the Arrivals point! It has always been with a sense of anticipation that I have alighted in Harare and, depending on the season, found the bougainvillea or the various trees to be in bloom – bliss! And then dodging the potholes on the way to MRCH, occasionally having to find fuel on the way.
It has been such an extraordinary experience to journey with MRCH over this time, and I have so many memories: my early acquaintance with Munamato Mangobe, who provided such stability in the 1990’s and who had such an ambition to move the Home forward; meetings with the various Presiding Bishops [at least five, over the years!] and Conference Secretaries; Astonishment starting at MRCH on the first day of one of my visits; our subsequent friendship and partnership as a vision was put into practice to move MRCH into 21st Century; and the discussions and decisions about development funding from [then] NCH and the MC [Britain] to enable this. Then the huge changes to the MRCH campus – and on other sites as well, and so many more over the years.
At an early stage of my involvement it was good to meet and discuss with John and Mary Bromley their experience andsignificant contribution at MRCH And, of course, the earlier involvement of Joe Withington, who continues to remind us how far we have all travelled in our partnership with the Home. I have also benefited tremendously from the wisdom, experience and enthusiasm of the Friends of MRCH over the past decade and more. It has been a privilege to have had your support and friendship during what have sometimes been very challenging times: your commitment has been, and continues to be, inspirational.
We have all seen such changes at MRCH over the past decade. Undoubtedly these changes have benefited so many children and a dedicated staff group have played such a big part in this process. They too have grown professionally and have, in the most difficult times, never ceased to be anything other than committed to their calling. The service has reached more children and families across the country and they have come to know the support and enabling nature of the – now – national organisation.
It is a service of which the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe can be proud and I hope it will continue to develop over the next 50 years. The international partnerships, which have been nurtured over the years, are vital to the ongoing work of MRCH and I can only hope that those responsible for the stewardship of the service will ensure the continuing quality of these relationships. Certainly there are many challenges to be faced by a new generation of managers: the existing work at the home, the outreach projects and the ambition to provide new services in other Districts of the MC in Zimbabwe. All these will depend on both local and international input and it will require patience and trust to continue to move the vision forward.
But, to quote Robert Browning, “…..Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”
Thank you to all of you who have walked alongside me over the past years – it has been such an amazing time – and I wish you all so well as you continue the journey. Barry Barnes