Collectively the UK Trustees represent considerable experience of living and working in Africa, and Zimbabwe in particular. Two of the Trustees have served as mission partners in the country, appointed by the Methodist Church in Britain.
Rev Graham Shaw - Chair of Trustees
Graham was born and educated in Zimbabwe, returning to the country from Zambia as a mission partner of the Methodist Church in 1992. He served at All Souls Anglican-Methodist Church for just two years before being appointed to Hillside Methodist Church in Bulawayo where he remained for the next nine years. As Zimbabwe descended into lawlessness and the suffering increased he was closely involved, on the ground, with the setting up of ZVSF. In 2004 when the human rights situation was deteriorating Graham became engaged full-time in humanitarian and human rights’ work. In 2006 he moved to the UK and has retired to South Devon, hoping to devote more time to this and other transformative work in Zimbabwe.
Rev Graham Matthews - Trust Treasurer
Graham was born in London and after leaving school joined the John Lewis Partnership. He worked for this organisation for 16yrs, mainly in Personnel Management. In 1981 with June and their son Simon they emigrated to Zimbabwe,. They were based in Bulawayo as he worked for Edgars. The family worshipped at Hillside Methodist Church. His call to ordained ministry meant that he reluctantly had to return to England in 1983 to candidate. His desire was to return as a Mission Partner but he remained on the English Stations. Serving 13yrs in Devon; 3yrs in Lancaster and his final appointment for 11yrs as a Prison Chaplain in Perth Scotland.
Now retired to Holbury in Hampshire looking after the grandchildren is number 1 priority. He also volunteers for the local hospice supporting neighbours who visit people in their homes.
He was able to return to Zimbabwe in 1989 and then for a three month sabbatical looking after Hillside Methodist Church in 1993.
Dr Christopher Sworn - Trust Secretary
Chris Sworn worked for the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe as District Auditor for two years from 1975 to 1977. Most of his time was spent in rural circuits and in the Church's schools and lay centres. Since retiring from industry in 2010, he returned to Southern Africa and, as a volunteer, ran a training centre in Namibia for two years; during this time, he returned to Zimbabwe on two occasions. He brings deep concern for justice and development among African people to the work of ZVSF.
Chris grew up in Zimbabwe, living in both Harare and Bulawayo, before going to university in South Africa. He moved to the UK in 2007 but has retained his love for the people and places of Zimbabwe. For the last few years, Chris has volunteered as a Trustee for a small charity working in Kampala, Uganda, and hopes to bring some of his experience to the work of ZVSF.
Our partners in Bulawayo, who work closely with the UK Trustees, operate through a team of trusted volunteers on the ground, including pastors and community leaders, living and working among the poorest of the poor.
Our Zimbabwe Victims’ Support Fund partner team in Bulawayo and (below) a photo of the late Pastor Abert Chatindo who was a key player in setting up this very special ministry to some of those in greatest need in Matabeleland, and upon whose wide experience and deep spiritual wisdom we relied heavily until his untimely death in September 2021
Knowledge and Understanding
When the Zimbabwe Victims' Support Fund (ZVSF) was started in 2002 none of those involved anticipated that the country would still be in deep crisis all these years later. In fact the suffering today is just as widespread and intense, and still there remain huge areas of desperate need which are not being met either by the United Nations or international aid organizations.
Most of the time Zimbabwe is low on the radar of the world media and consequently it is not that easy to track events in the country. Moreover the few events reported do not always reflect the harsh reality of daily living for ordinary Zimbabweans, whether urban or rural. For most that reality is an unremitting struggle for survival under an oppressive and uncaring regime, which means they must learn to cope somehow without adequate food, water, or even the most basic services.
For our part therefore we regard it as a high priority of ZVSF to keep our supporters well informed on the challenges faced by the people of Zimbabwe, focusing in on the desperate plight of the most vulnerable to whom our team bring a holistic ministry. We seek to provide the understanding and insight required for a real engagement, through prayer and material support, with the people and with our programme.
Responding To Need
We are profoundly grateful for the window of opportunity God has given us to respond to the desperate needs of some thousands of the most vulnerable, making a real and positive difference to their lives. We are also very appreciative of the amazing generosity of our supporters who, by their sacrificial giving, sustain this pinprick of light on the dark canvas of suffering.
In 2012 we obtained charitable status as a British Registered Charity (No. 1145569). which means that those of our supporters who are UK tax-payers can augment their gifts by claiming Gift Aid. (See the Support Us page)
Volunteers distribute maize meal, sometimes endangering their own safety, to some of Zimbabwe’s poor, vulnerable, displaced people, bringing them joy and relief!