Simba Means Strength: Part 1

This story begins another series about a Sarah’s resident, “Simba,” meaning strength in Shona.

Simba is surprised by her strength and survival despite many things that threatened her life coming to the US. Growing up the economy was good and healthcare affordable. Unusually, there was a clinic nearby, so Simba wasn’t hours away from healthcare. Once called “the breadbasket of Africa,” the area had plenty of food. Women being always less than men was beginning to change. All the while in Africa, Simba lived in her family home which they had because civil servants like her father were reserved houses. Family support and schooling being country priorities, police intervened and arrested people if family allowed homelessness among their members or anyone was found not in school. All schools accepted people of all backgrounds and charged fees but offered trusts for orphans. Simba was a social worker at 25, doing home visits, teaching how to care for incontinent people with HIV at the end of their lives. British settlers in the 1800’s claimed fertile land and pushed natives onto undesirable land. In 1980, following a revolutionary war, natives gained independence, forming a peace treaty but without a change in land ownership. In 2002, a reform program redistributed land to everyone to have equal access to land suitable for farming. The government set the program without policies to carry it out. Veterans who fought in the war pressured the government to award them the land, forcibly taking land from families who’d occupied it for 200 years. Thousands losing farmland moved from the country or lost lives fighting. Then, a strong opposition party formed opposing governmental policies. Hearing farmers being attacked and arrested greatly distressed natives. Surrounded by native farms growing their own food, Simba’s family suffered from the 2002 drought. The US sanctions on imports due to the violence impacted the economy and meant healthcare services and food became expensive and inaccessible. Simba’s family worried they’d die if they became ill, and starvation threatened by food from non-fertile land diminished even more by drought.