A Story about Zimbabwe, Three Professional Golfers, and a Whole Lotta Love
Once Upon A Time there were three professional golfers who walked into a bar….
No, No, wrong story…
But there were 3 professional golfers. Their names were Reeve, CeCe and Lolly. All three were blond white women, but one was a native Zimbabwean, one was a native South African, and one was a native Norwegian.
This story starts with Reeve, a coach on the professional women’s European golf tour, who in 1996 was walking through the children’s ward in a hospital in Zimbabwe. As she walked through the ward she met a 12-year-old girl who had been blinded when she was 8, by bi-lateral cataracts. Long story short, after a 15 minute surgery, this young girl who hadn’t been able to see her families faces, or where she was walking, or a sunrise or sunset for 4 years, later had the bandaged removed and her eyesight restored. Reeve cried at the miracle of it. Of how little it took to give so much back to another person. Cataract surgery costs $20 US, for supplies.
Fast forward a few days and Reeve was walking with Laurette Maritz, better known as Lolly, South Africa’s top lady golf professional, a beloved and household name in South Africa, down the 18th hole at Chapman Golf Course and the two were madly brainstorming about how they could raise money through charity golf events to purchase the medical equipment and supplies to provide this surgery for the many others in Zimbabwe who suffered from cataracts. This was 21 years ago.
What started out as Eyes4Zimbabwe has morphed over the years into a much broader charity project that supplies everything from thousands of bales of clothing a year, to food, surgeries, dental work, hygiene supplies and literacy projects to people who might have never had clothing before, odd as that sounds. People who have never seen a pen or pencil – who have used their fingers to draw in the dirt. People who live in a place where the unemployment rate is 96% and scrounging in the dump to find things to sell is a viable and popular way of survival.
In 2001 Cecilie Lundgreen, a Norwegian professional golfer, joined Reeve and Lolly and opened the Norwegian chapter. Six feet tall with bright blond hair and blue eyes, she is every bit the Norwegian, but all three women have a similar look. All three women are members of the LDS church. All three women use their broad reach in their professional lives to create abundance and reprieve for those who have less and suffer more in our world. All three women have hearts focused on doing good.
So, now to the good stuff – today I am down in the Humanitarian Center of the LDS Church where these woman have collected massive amounts of supplies and the LDS church is allowing them to use their docks and bailing equipment for sorting and bailing and loading for shipment to Zimbabwe.
This is how they work: first, they send out emails to everyone they know with their wish list of things they need – food, blankets, newborn kits, hygiene kits, school books, bibles, clothing, toys, etc. Many willing people start collecting and contacting friends and it is through the power of people and networking that massive amounts of donations are collected. People show up with trailers full of clothes and trucks full of equipment. Stores provide donations and the medical community pitches in. Then the sorting starts – this is what I am doing today down at the Humanitarian Center. We are sorting clothing so we can put “girls pants” and “men’s coats” in specific bales for shipment. The clothes are varied, I’m struck by how unpicky and happy the African people are to get anything to wear. The clothes are not pressed or folded but smooshed together in bales to be able to ship as much as possible. Stories are told of people lined up for hours to get an outfit.
But let me let you hear it from the mouths of Reeve and CeCe.
Tune in to the audio version for the interviews.
It’s been a pleasure to learn about this project. An inspiration to watch people, of their own accord, work so hard to create stories that comfort and bless others. Volunteers thronged the Humanitarian center today – moms with their kids coming to sort and serve. Families and older couples. My son has been sorting and hauling bales for hours, and we are privileged to be a small part of a big story making a big difference.
On the podcast I like to share stories of inspiration. Stories of overcoming and stories that illustrate ways of living big, bold and happy. This is one of these – from the many people who collect and donate, to the people here in the warehouse taking an hour or two out of their day to be one little cog in this machine, to these professional golfers who have created something big and beautiful. There is good in the world and we can all build that into our own stories.
Check out the show notes for more contact information on Eyes4Zimbabwe, and thanks for tuning in today. Quick reminder – the 21-Day Challenge is live and ready for you to sign up to get a fun new challenge each day – a way to test out little ways of changing up your story to create more love, peace and possibility in your life. It’s a resource I hope you’ll use! Easy and fun. www.loveyourstorypodcast.com
See you next week.