Forgotten Voices' Mission:

"Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities."

Monday, March 31, 2008

"For Mugabe Writing is on Wall" (ZWNews)

Story from ZWNews that is worth the read if you like names/details.

TIME article that provides a more general overview of the people's reaction so far, as well as general analysis.

Keep praying!


Latest Zim Election News & Links

Friends - I wanted to pass along 2 websites that will offer you some insights into what is happening. They are NOT independent completely, as independent news doesn't really exist right now in Zimbabwe. They are both operating externally from sources on the ground. However, based on my review, they seem to be providing the most comprehensive analysis and links that I've found so far.

For election commentary on-going throughout the day: The Guardian (UK)

For election results, by the numbers: Zimbabwe Metro

So far - no official Presidential elections have been given.

Please continue to pray with me.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Election Update

Not sure if this will come out clearly, as it is being sent by BlackBerry, but I have just read that election results for Zimbabwe are due out at 6am local time or midnight EST.

Please continue to pray. They will appear at

Anxiety is running high and tension is growing, but peace (for the most part) has remained throughout the country.

I am going to bed now, but go praying that a day new day will dawn for me and a new future, full of peace & possibilities for Zimbabwe.

I am thankful that God knows and I am at peace with God. Our God reigns over all the heavens and the earth. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Peace be with you.-Ryan

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Election Today - News

I just spoke with a pastor in Bulawayo. He said that he voted at 9:30am local time (3:30am EST). No violence has broken out and peace has prevailed. He said that peace is evident so far this morning throughout Bulawayo. He stated that people were waiting in line when the polls opened and proceeded eagerly when the doors opened.

Polls will close at 7pm (1pm EST). Continue to pray for peace, wisdom, and a renewed sense of hope. Particularly, pray for all the vote counters who will undoubtedly face pressures from many different factions of the political world. Pray for the courage they need amidst these pressures.

Remember - if you have not done so already, please download the information on Praying for the Election that can be found in our blog...just the previous post from this one.

Thank you for praying and continuing to walk alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ... in my 2nd home. Thank you.

Peace, wisdom, hope and love to you all,

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mennonite Weekly Review: Election Coverage

Forgotten Voices is briefly mention at the end as a way for people to respond to the challenges in Zimbabwe. Thanks for helping spread the vision. Tell your friends. The movement to respond to the needs of local people is spreading. Join us.


An inter-Mennonite newspaper, putting the Mennonite world together every week since 1923

Prayers uphold Zimbabweans as elections approach

By Celeste Kennel-Shank
Mennonite Weekly Review

CHICAGO — As presidential elections approach in Zimbabwe, Anabaptists there and in other nations will pray for peace at the polls and an end to suffering for the people.

A group of Anabaptists in Illinois is calling for prayer and fasting and will gather at 10 a.m. March 29 at Christ Community Mennonite Church in Schaumburg, Ill., as polls close.

Mankani Moyo — a former pastor in the 33,000-member Brethren in Christ Church in Zimbabwe, currently living in the United States and attending Christ Community — said he will pray for his nation to avoid the kind of violence recently seen after elections in Kenya.

“My concern is that there will be peace in Zimbabwe and that the people will exercise their right to choose whoever they want to choose,” Moyo said.

President Robert Mugabe, who has held the position since 1980, will be challenged in the Zimbabwe presidential election by Simba Makoni, former national finance minister, and Morgan Tsvangirai, who has trade union support.

Moyo prays that people in Zimbabwe would be able to work and support their families, as he sees in the United States. He believes prayer connects believers as they try to advance that vision.

“There is unity in prayer,” Moyo said. “When we sit down and pray and fast, the Lord is going to move and do something in our midst.”

One of the other prayers will be for the elections to be free and fair, said Joy Kauffman of Willow Springs Mennonite Church in Tiskilwa, Ill., one of the event’s organizers.

“We are praying with that mustard seed, that God can move mountains,” Kauffman said.

Mennonites should also consider what it means to be part of the body of Christ, remembering lessons from Mennonite World Conference in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, in 2003, Kauffman said.

“We made promises that we would not forget our brothers and sisters there,” Kauffman said. “It’s a question of how we honor those promises.”

Bishop Danisa Ndlovu — head of the BIC Church in Zimbabwe and MWC vice president and president-elect — is a particular inspiration for the worldwide church, Kauffman said.

“He had to choose pacifism in a way that I can’t even fathom, because he had to choose not to seek retribution after his father’s own brutal, brutal death,” Kauffman said. “He has called the church to creatively imagine what it means to be the body, and what it means to be in a body together with people for whom the suffering is so great.”

Wayne Hochstetler, conference minister for Illinois Mennonite Conference, attended the world conference in Zimbabwe and said it helped participants “understand much more clearly the dynamics the churches are facing there, as well as the extreme need the churches are facing.”

Mennonites should continue to show concern for the people there, he said.

To that end, Hochstetler is working with Kauffman to explore the possibility of forming relationships between churches in the conference and churches in Zimbabwe.

Ndlovu has suggested forming church links through Forgotten Voices, a nonprofit based in Mechanicsburg, Pa., which connects with local churches in Zimbabwe to provide funds and training for empowering orphans through education and agricultural projects, Kauffman said.

Portions of this article is available only in the print edition because of sensitive information.

Sojourners Coverage: A Dream for Zimbabwe


Reprinted with permission from Sojourners,, (800)714-7474

A Dream for Zimbabwe

Resisting a state at war with its people.
by Joy Kauffman

email this article printer-friendly version

Some of the most courageous Christian nonviolent direct action in recent history is happening in relationship to the escalating crisis in Zimbabwe. To protest how President Robert Mugabe’s “brutal” political oppression and economic mismanagement has “taken people’s identity and literally cut it to pieces,” Archbishop of York John Sentamu, a Ugandan and the Church of England’s second most senior clergy, recently cut up his clerical collar on live television, refusing to wear it until Mugabe is out of office.

In Zimbabwe, the “wail of suffering and the stench of death are evidence enough of the failures of a corrupt and brutal regime, bent on staying in power at all costs,” according to Sentamu. “Zimbabwe has the highest proportion of orphans in the world (1.3 million), largely due to the devastation caused by HIV and AIDS and their related illnesses, which kill 3,200 people each week. Then there are the needless deaths that occur because most of the doctors have fled a health system in ruins. Most have no transport to get to hospital, or, in the unlikely event that they reach one, money to pay bills. Added to all of this is hunger and malnutrition. It is no accident that the average life expectancy of Zimbabweans hovers around 35, lower than any war zone.”

The situation in Zimbabwe is nothing less than a civil war of a government against its own people. While President Mugabe has often been perceived as a hero in the story of Zimbabwe’s decolonization and has billed his attempts to redistribute white-owned farms as post-colonial justice, it has become clear to many African observers that the redistribution of Zimbabwe’s resources has all been directed toward Mugabe’s well-armed elite. Sentamu reports that, in Zimbabwe, “people don’t know where their next meals are going to come from. But of course, Mugabe and his clique are living wonderfully.”

Mugabe has announced that presidential and legislative elections will be held on March 29, but few believe they will be free and fair; opposition members have been regularly beaten and imprisoned for trying to hold rallies for their supporters. As Sentamu put it last December in an interview with the BBC, “those re-elections, whatever happens, are going to be rigged like they’ve been since Mugabe came to power.” However, recently Mugabe’s former Finance Minister Simba Makoni has announced his presidential candidacy, introducing some hope that there is the possibility of change.

After Sentamu's protest, 50 members of the Zimbabwe National Pastors’ Conference declared that there was need for local pastors to, as a Zimbabwe Standard article put it, “do a ‘Sentamu.’” One of the pastors, Lawrence Berejena, said, “God has chosen us to be the voice of the voiceless.” The pastors have vowed to take part in “nonviolent prophetic action,” consisting of marches and prayer meetings, to protest against the continued deterioration of the political and economic situation in the country.

In Zimbabwe, where gatherings have been made illegal, this is an act almost assuring arrest, imprisonment, even the risk of martyrdom. The pastors know the risks well; there have been thousands of arrests in Zimbabwe this past year alone.

Christians understand themselves to be part of the body of Christ—God’s ongoing incarnation in the world. Although Christian leaders in Zimbabwe bear much bad news, their testimony of faith and lives of faithfulness have embodied the good news of the gospel for us like much-needed oxygen. The leaders of the Zimbabwe Pastors’ Conference are encouraging Christians from around the world to join them in nonviolent marches in Zimbabwe as a witness of the transnational church. Even more, the pastors are inviting Christians to join them in a dream—the dream proclaimed by Christ when he read from Isaiah’s scroll: a dream of life, not death; food, not famine; dignity, not abuse; freedom, not oppression.

To join the preachers’ protest or otherwise help Zimbabwe, visit or Joy Kauffman worked with her husband in wind energy development through Stewardship Energy LLC and lived in Illinois when this article appeared.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Prayer Changes Everything - Pray for Zimbabwe

Dear Friends,

As we gather to pray for Zimbabwe this Saturday, we'll rejoice in knowing that so many others are also joining us in lifting up Zimbabwe's elections and it's people in prayer.

Click here to find a list of prayer requests to help guide your time. Also read the words from some of our project partners in Zimbabwe by clicking here - messages they wanted to share with those who are praying for them and supporting them during this time. Please pass on these messages to those who gather with you to pray.

We can't emphasize enough how encouraging it is to our partners knowing believers around the world are praying for them!

In addition, we'd like to invite YOU to respond to our project partners in Zimbabwe during/following your time of prayer. If you would like to pass on a message, a passage of scripture or any other encouragement, you are invited to e-mail those messages to us directly, and we'll pass them along to our partners and the people they serve. If you wish and feel it's appropriate, we would even enjoy receiving a photo of your group gathered to pray!

Finally, if this time of prayer for Zimbabwe generates interest among others gathered with you, we'd love to share with them regarding additional ways they can support and partner with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Southern Africa. Please don't hesitate to pass along our contact information to other individuals/churches.

We look forward to hearing from you again soon! Thank you for praying!

Nate and Ellen Shaffer

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mugabe Seeks Pre-Election Price Cuts

This morning, Forgotten Voices' Board discussed the rising costs of goods in the country and availability of basic commodities in 2008. The situation isn't looking good, whether or not you have money. Here's an interesting piece on price cuts. I hope you find it helpful as you continue to learn about complicated life in Zimbabwe. Reminder - Please Pray! Elections are this Saturday, March 29. Thanks! -Ryan

Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe in Harare on Saturday
Robert Mugabe blames the economic problems on his enemies
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has threatened to force businesses to cut prices ahead of the 29 March elections.

Prices have again shot up after Mr Mugabe awarded huge pay rises to teachers and civil servants last month.

"We are going to read the riot act to them [businesses]," he told a campaign rally in Hwange.

The government last year ordered prices to be reduced, leading to widespread shortages. Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate is 100,000% - the world's highest.

The state-owned Herald newspaper reports that Mr Mugabe has ordered business leaders to attend a meeting with government officials.

Simba Makoni campaigns near Harare on Friday
It will not be easy to steal the election. It's not impossible
Simba Makoni
Independent candidate

"We want them to reduce prices to those which were in effect before the salary hike," he said.

He said that anyone who refused to co-operate would be nationalised, through the new Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, under which businesses are supposed to be majority-owned by black Zimbabweans.

Mr Mugabe says white-owned businesses are raising prices in order to reduce his chances of being re-elected.

The businesses say the official prices are below the cost of production.

Some 12,000 people were arrested last year for selling goods at above the official prices.

'Wasted vote'

In another rally, Mr Mugabe also said the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change would "never" take power.

"Those who want to vote for him [MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai] can do so but those votes will be wasted votes," he said in Bulawayo, an opposition stronghold.

Mr Tsvangirai has accused Mr Mugabe of planning to rig the polls.

Mr Mugabe's ministers have denied such allegations.

Former Finance Minister Simba Makoni is also challenging Mr Mugabe and told the BBC that so many people would vote for him that it would be difficult to rig.

"It will not be easy to steal the election. It's not impossible," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

"People are desperate to stay in power. They will do anything and everything they have to do."

The US and the European Union accused Mr Mugabe of rigging previous elections - charges he denied.

Western monitors have been barred from this election.

African election observers were less critical and they have been invited.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter in Zimbabwe

today, people in Zimbabwe are just like us. preparing for the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. but for them, this Easter is also different. Many people are connecting Easter and the resurrection of Jesus with the coming chance for renewal in the country. A cleansing of their wounds and an opportunity to begin a new chapter in the country's history.

I am not and will not advocate for a direction for Zimbabwe, as we are a relief agency caring for orphans. But I will say that our friends in Zimbabwe are praying for change...healthy change.

Yesterday, I spoke with our friend Fibion. His congregation had an all-night prayer vigil that went through THursday night to Friday morning. They then had Good Friday service at 6pm local time. They were regathering for an all day Saturday prayer & worship service. They would then celebrate Easter together as a church.

While length doesn't equal quality, it does help indicate priority. As we rush around and go about our lives, I encourage us to take time to pray, worship, and thank God for sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins.... so that we could be redeemed, restored, and renewed in Christ.

There are a ton of things going on in my life right now. People that are close to me are dying, good friends are suffering from severe sickness that could take their lives, and these situations are not in Zimbabwe. They are here in the United States.

When I was lost in grieving yesterday morning, I called Zimbabwe to grieve with them about all I was reading in the papers regarding their suffering, elections, abuse, water issues, power cuts, etc. Ya know what?????? They rejoiced!

People continue to rejoice and remember that our God is a God of redemption.

This weekend, remember that our God is smiling and rejoicing that His son is about to rise from the dead and redeem the world. While we know He has done this already, we stop and reflect at this sacrifice. Remember to take time to thank God and worship Him.

Our friends in Zimbabwe are doing that and we have a lot to learn from them, as they teach us about God, Jesus, and love.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Join 1,000 Voices

We are looking for 1,000 Voices to Help Tell Our Story! You can help! Do you have a place or a group that you would like to have hear about Forgotten Voices? We have a team of people that can come share our story. Or we can help you tell the story. Send us an email at or call us at 717.506.0633.


Join 1,000 Voices Print E-mail

We all want to be part of a movement. Something beyond ourselves. Something we can tell our friends and coworkers about. We look around at our neighbors and talk to people in coffeeshops. We wonder what it's all about. We are anxious to find a way to introduce people to the love of God in a non-threatening way. Show God's love. Live it out. Be part of something that demonstrates the love of Jesus Christ in a physical & spiritual way.



Join 1,000 Voices

Donate at least $10+/month

Share our story with 10 Friends

Pray for our Partners

Our ministry is committed to connecting you and your friends to something significant. The voices of Christians across southern Africa are crying out to be heard. Meet some of them. Whether it's Fibion, Mrs. Maposa, or Pierre caring for orphans. Or Hope or Concilia & her cousins. They are working hard everyday to share the love of Jesus Christ with the people they encounter.

We get to join them. Forgotten Voices is partnering with local orphan care projects run by local people. Our job in the United States is to raise money, share their story, and pray for them as we serve them in every way we can.

With this in mind, we are trying to find 1,000 people to join us and say "I'll Remember". Use your voice and join a movement built on empowering local people to empower orphans in their community.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ryan on World Vision Report Radio

Friends - An interview I did with World Vision Report in September 2007 began airing this March and will appear on thousands of radio stations around the world on Christian Radio stations and NPR affiliates.

To hear it now, visit To hear the full program, we are about 1/2 way through:

Enjoy! I thank God for this opportunity to share what God has been doing through our ministry in southern Africa. Thanks to all of you for being part of this exciting story. Together, we are sharing God's love with vulnerable people in a Forgotten area of the world.

All the best,

What a week...4 States in 7 Days

Sorry for my absence. I've been in a few states over the past week, visiting some family and some friends of Forgotten Voices. Last Monday, I spent the day in New Jersey meeting with a group based in NY that is working in Zimbabwe. We took time to share what's happening with our organizations and explore how we can help each other amidst the challenges there. I love how God provides us with people to connect with...minister with!

Then, on Tuesday, I traveled to Virginia & DC. I helped take eight 8th graders to the Natural History Museum in DC. Always a good time to hang out with kids!

Wednesday, I had a day TRYING to catch up on calls/emails from you all and our partners in Africa.

Thursday, VERY early in the morning, I set out for Philadelphia, then flew to Nashville, TN to see my grandparents, who live about an hour east in a small city called Baxter (pop. 1,600). Took some time to reflect and dream about what's next with some of our new projects and organization.

In Tennessee, I saw relatives, went to church a couple times, helped my grandpa try to sell something online, helped fix an apartment that my grandfather rents out, and did some dancin'. People in Tennessee LOVE to dance!

Monday of this week, I began a return back at 5:15am, arrived in Philly, took a train to Harrisburg, PA and then was taken by a friend to Messiah College, where I spoke at a Chapel on the physical & spiritual needs met by our homebased care volunteers in Africa. Some students at Messiah are throwing a fundraiser called DodgeABall, where students pay $2/person to play in a round-robin Dodge Ball tournament.

It's always awesome to travel, meet new people, and see what is happening in other parts of the USA! But I did miss writing to you all. I hope you survived without me. :)

This week, look for updates on some new Zambian Partnerships we just launched, as well as some ways you can pray for the upcoming elections in Zimbabwe.

Thanks for praying for me as I travel, for work and for me. It's good to back home though. Yesterday, Katie & I celebrated 7 months of marriage!

Lots of love,
Until tomorrow,

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Zimbabweans get ARVs from Mozambique

In today's Mail & Guardian, there is an article detailing how Zimbabweans are crossing into Mozambique to get ARVs (antiretrovirals) to slow down HIV's impact on their bodies. Just last night, my wife Katie & I attended a lecture in Lancaster, PA on medical issues in Africa. One of the doctors I most respect in the world, John Spurrier, spoke about how ARVs are slowing down death and increasing the quality of life.

I'll write more on John's talk this week, but in the meantime...I thought you'd find this article interesting and worth the read. It highlights how people are traveling far to get these expensive drugs, even as Mozambique struggles to provide enough for its own citizens.

An estimated 6% of Zimbabweans that need ARVs have access currently. Be challenged. Learn.


Zimbabweans get antiretrovirals in Mozambique

Posted by: "Barbara Goss"

Sat Mar 1, 2008 11:28 pm (PST)

Mail and Guardian

Zimbabweans get antiretrovirals in Mozambique

Florence Panoussian | Machipanda, Mozambique

02 March 2008 08:51

Zimbabwean orphans Evans (13) and Edmond Mahlangu (8) crossed a
mountain range on foot to get to Mozambique where they are slowly recovering
on life-saving Aids drugs in short supply back home.

"We walked for a day in the mountains. We had to keep quiet
because of the guards," recounted the boys' 17-year-old sister, Emmaculate,
who made the 10km journey with her HIV-positive siblings at the beginning of

"It was tough above all for my brothers. They had to walk alone
because I was carrying bags."

The children have taken refuge with an aunt not far from the
Machipanda border post in the central Mozambican province of Manica.

Orphaned in 2006, the children lived with their grandmother in
Mutare on the Zimbabwean side of the border until she banished them in

"My grandmother chased us away. She was afraid of the boys
because they are sick. She was scared to touch them, even to cook for them,"
said Emmaculate.

Without any identity documents, the children fled to Mozambique
as little hope remained in their home country with a critical lack of food
and drugs and official inflation exceeding 100 000% -- a state of affairs
widely blamed on longtime President Robert Mugabe whose controversial land
reform policies, seizing white-owned farms for redistribution to landless
black Zimbabweans, all but killed commercial agriculture and scared off
foreign investors.

Evans and Edmond were put on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment as
soon as they arrived in Mozambique.

"I feel better now. It's not so bad as before," the elder boy
said timidly, his body covered in a severe rash.

The boys had been given ARVs once before, back home in Zimbabwe,
but government-sponsored drugs are hard to come by and private sector prices
are prohibitive.

'We accommodate all patients without discriminating'
Mozambican officials say Zimbabweans flock across the border to
access ARVs.

"Hundreds of Zimbabweans come here to get Aids treatment that
Mozambique provides for free," said Aarao Uaquiço, local coordinator of the
national council against Aids, a government body.

The Zimbabwean beneficiaries' numbers are not well documented.

"We accommodate all patients without discriminating," said
provincial head doctor Marilia Pugas.

More than 100 000 HIV-positive people now receive free ARV
in Mozambique, up from 7 000 in 2005.

"It is extraordinary. But the costs are enormous," said Maurico
Cysne, Mozambican representative of the United Nations Programme on Aids

"Treatment costs $50 [per person] a year."

One of the poorest countries in the world, Mozambique like most
of Southern Africa is buckling under the impact of HIV/Aids.

It has an average HIV prevalence rate of 16% of the population,
rising to 23% in some areas of Manica, a transit point for heavy trucks
making their way from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi to the

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Zimbabwe's Lethal HIV Solution

Today's WashingtonPost features as article that basically argues HIV rates are decreasing in Zimbabwe because of the high death rates due to poverty. Tragic and lethal, indeed. I see some signs of this being true within the areas we work. Continue to pray for wisdom for all of us working to create healthy solutions to the challenges HIV presents.



"Saturday, March 1, 2008; Page A13

Regarding the Feb. 20 article "African AIDS Crisis Outlives $15 Billion Bush Initiative":

According to the article, "economic collapse has coincided with fundamental social change" to decrease the rate of HIV infection in Zimbabwe.

Nevertheless, it is rising mortality -- resulting from hardship and poverty -- that has been instrumental in effecting change. As mortality rates increase, the pool of infected people and the risk of new infections shrink, and -- statistically speaking -- this decreases HIV rates.

Death, then, acts as a powerful incentive for behavioral change, but it can hardly be prescribed as the ideal antidote to AIDS. While the health benefits of embracing monogamy are obvious, the cause of this shift (poverty) should also be a cause for widespread concern.

Skyrocketing unemployment and social disruption have also played a part, at once reducing mobility and increasing migration. While the former lessens the risk of infection, the latter inflates other countries' HIV rates while letting Zimbabwe benefit.

When a country with 150,000 percent inflation and a despotic ruler flaunts achievements that no one else can claim, perhaps a little more caution is in order.

-- Ilaria Regondi