By EMMANUEL MUWUNGANIRWA
Situated in the North East of Zim-babwe near to the town of Mutoko, about 155kms from Harare and some fifty miles from the border of Mo-zambique, this became home place for John and his beloved family, the people who live with leprosy.
Mutemwa started as a leprosarium in about 1937 with a few patients and growing into a huge leprosarium in the 1940’s and 50’s with nearly 1000 patients. In 1962, with the introduc-tion of the drug Dapsone, which can cure the leprosy bacteria, the center was closed and many patients were asked to seek home based care. However some patients had no suitable or local homes to go to. About 200 of them, some from Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania who were part of the migrant labour force who came to Rhodesia to seek work on the white farms. This forced Mutemwa to stay open and keep rendering social support to these patients and others who had no suitable homes to return to.
The doctors and nurses had all gone and the Clinic was shut. They were given scant care by the so-cial welfare of the day. This was noticed by the wife of the local Magistrate who went in search of help. She approached the Jesuit Mission Superior and a few friends. A small Committee was formed in 1968 called “The Friends of Mutemwa”. In the meantime John Bradburne, who de-scribed himself as a strange vagabond of God’ found Mutemwa and at once settled there to help in what way he could.
At present,forty years after the death of John, the Mutemwa Leprosy Catholic and Care Centre has a Board that con-tinues with John’s legacy through pro-viding perpetual financial support for Mutemwa, desperately in need of help and to promote his cause for beatifica-tion, given the wide- spread belief in his sanctity expressed by all who met him.
The centre is in dire need of medical assistance for its patients, including an ambulance, refurbishment of the patients’ residence, more water to sustain current projects on site that include piggery, cattle and chicken production and food stuffs. A big thank you to our perennial donors who have sustained the institution for years who range from the government, NGOs, private and public entities, churches and individuals.