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Marlene Brand from Zimbabwe message

Dear cars from Japan, I live in Zimbabwe, in fact I have lived here for 48 years. It is that small country in the shape of a teapot just north of South Africa.The two countries are separated by a river called the Limpopo River that is dry in patches a lot of the year, but in summer, which is the rainy season, it can become a torrent of water.

Our president is 92 years old and he hasn’t made a very good job of running the country. In fact, he has made a total mess of it. I am 73 years old and still working as a physiotherapist in my own private practice. When I turned 65 and was supposed to retire, my 6 retirement policies suddenly had zero value overnight when the Zimbabwe Dollar became totally worthless. The government had printed a thousand trillion dollars note with which you could not buy anything because there was nothing to buy in the shops that had rows upon rows of empty shelves. In a way it was funny to go into the supermarkets that only had a single long line of baked beans and nothing else. There were long queues all over the city and people would join a queue without knowing what they were queuing for; maybe a loaf of bread or a packet of sugar or a bottle of cooking oil.
Then one night in February 2009 they removed 12 noughts from the value of the currency, so that if you had $5,000,000,000,000 in your bank account, or your insurance policies, or your retirement policies, you now had zero. In other words, the government robbed us clean.
There was one plus factor though, and that is that if one still had a large mortgage outstanding on your house, your house was suddenly paid off. Or if you had bought a car and there was payment outstanding on the car, your car was suddenly paid off. But sadly of course one can’t live without money in the bank or cash in your pocket. And if you had assets to sell there was no-one who could by it.
So here we are 6 years later; numerous old-age pensioners are destitute and have to depend on food handouts or money sent by their children who live overseas. Two or three million people in the country don’t have food on the table every day or they have to scrounge for food on a daily basis. The city streets are full of street children whose parents have died or who are unable to look after them. And to top it all, our president has just announced that he is the only candidate in his party ( known for their ruthless violence during election campaigns) who will stand for the next presidential election in 2018 when he will be 94 years old.
I thank God that I have one very great blessing, and that is my health. I am fit and strong and hope to be able to carry on working for another decade or more. But of course that is only if God keeps me well and He doesn’t have other plans for me.
I live with my husband who was a university lecturer for 44 years and now has a very meagre pension, and my older brother who is also retired with no pension. My earnings keep the three of us going.
The three of us share two old Mazdas bought in the nineties. There is no hope that we can ever afford to buy another car. My two youngest sons live in Cape Town, which is 2,260 kilometers from Bulawayo where we live. We love visiting them once a year so that we can see them, our grandchildren and other members of our family. But we need a reliable car to get there. Also the roads in Zimbabwe are in a very poor state because there is no money to repair the thousands of potholes. Just to move around Zimbabwe we need a more robust car.
Zimbabwe is a beautiful country with several World Heritage sites. There is the Victoria Falls, unparalleled in the world, Mana Pools which is teeming with wildlife, especially the big five; Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Buffalo and Rhinoceros. The Nyanga National park which reminds of the Scottish Highlands with streams and trees and ferns, the Chimanimani Mountains that separates Zimbabwe from Mozambique, Lake Kariba which is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world and fed by the mighty Zambezi River as well as Gonarezhou National Park also teeming with wldlife.
Close to Bulawayo where we live we have the Matobo National Park which has incredible granite rocks and outcrops, with balancing rocks formed eons ago that one cannot imagine how it got like that.
To visit these lovely places right here in our own country, we need a reliable vehicle to take us there, even over bad roads. So ‘Cars of Japan’, how wonderful it shall be if I were to win a car for Christmas. I can only dream for that to come true.

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