LONDON: Hardly month passes without headlines about a suicide or fatal domestic violence cases in the diaspora, along with appeals for funding to help repatriate deceased Zimbabweans back home.
Unreported are many cases of family break-ups, children getting involved with gangs, others going into care as well as thousands struggling to survive because they are illegal immigrants.
The latest tragedy related to boxer and former banker Bhekitshe Moyo, 42, who had lived in the UK for 15 years when he was ordered to leave the country. He was found dead in a London park.
Local church leaders recently came together in Birmingham to discuss these issues and establish a way forward for the community.
The workshop was convened and co-sponsored by Diaspora Funeral Cash Plan (DFCP) and Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) as part of their corporate social responsibility.
Churches and organisations represented included Forward in Faith Ministries International (ZAOGA), AFM, Methodist, Anglican, Cornerstone Ministries, Kingdom Celebration Ministries International Church, Christian Council Zimbabwe (a union of all Zimbabwean Apostolic and Zion Churches) and Man Of Influence.
"Whilst the diaspora is awash with positive, success stories it is fair to say that like any other transitional community there are many problems that need a pragmatic and holistic approach in building better communities. These problems have manifested in so many shocking mishaps.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of church and other community leaders to create less fragmented community, a community with own support framework, a community with a voice and capacity to craft common solutions for its common good" said Dr Sibert Mandega who is a DFCP Director.
Challenges identified at the meeting include family problems, health, immigration and community cohesion.
“We agreed that most of the family challenges are a result of work/family time balance with most parents fixated on money more than children’s welfare.
“It was also mentioned that the church leadership needs to listen more, and perhaps a bit deeper, into congregants’ stories for therein lies serious issues calling for both physical and spiritual intervention.”, organisers said after the meeting.
The workshop training focussed on one to one engagements, relational power building and leveraging.
The church leaders applauded DFCP and THT in facilitating the workshop and agreed to use the initiative to plan for a more inclusive and open diaspora community dialogue that whould include all stakeholders. The leaders agreed to go back to their assemblies and mobilise for greater community cohesion, reach-out to non-believers as means of creating a stronger community, with own resources people and ability to solve its community issues.
SEE IMAGES FROM THE EVENT BELOW: