By Br. Alfonce Kugwa
Since the demolition of Tshongokwe Mission in Hwange Diocese during the war of liberation, the area has been in the doldrums of development with nothing significant to contribute to the wellbeing of people in that area. The people of Tsongokwe, suffered yet another blow when the mission was moved to Jotsholo leaving them yawning for development. For many years, they suffered a lot of challenges including lack of quality education, poor road network and unavailability of health facilities. The sick had to be referred to St. Luke Hospital in Lupane which lies about 60km away from Jotsholo. Some people died at home while others relied on the local traditional healers as they could not afford bus fare to and from St. Luke.
Thanks be to the Missionary Daughters of Calvary Sisters for remembering the people of Tshongokwe by building a state of the art hospital that has brought a sigh of relief to the local community. The hospital which is still under construction has already become very busy as people troop to seek medication and proper health care.
Sr. Cecilia Mahlangu who is in charge of the construction of the hospital said the Missionary Daughters of Calvary Sisters engaged the local leadership with the intention of having a farm to start income generating projects. It was at the meeting that the local leadership in turn raised the need for a clinic since they depended on Jotsholo and St. Luke which is very far away.
“That is when our objective changed to provision of health services after realising the needs of the local community. We then approached the Ministry of Health and Child Care who instructed us to build a hospital instead of a clinic since there is no referral hospital in the area,” said Sr. Mahlangu.
The facility which lies some 22km from the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway will be a referral hospital for eleven clinics and serve plus or minus 6000 people from Sobendle, Mtshekwa, Tshongokwe, Maqaqeni, Buyu, Mateteni, Ngombane, Nganunu, Japiwa, Tiki and Mswibilili villages.
The hospital started in 2017 with the construction of the Sisters’ Convent while construction of the first wing started in 2018. It opened its doors in July 2020 as an annex of Jotsholo clinic with the support of the council who seconded two nurses for the running of the hospital.
Sr. Mahlangu said there are many structures to be completed which include the kitchen, mothers’ shelter, laundry and mortuary before the infrastructure can be registered and officially opened.
Sr. Mahlangu stated: “The male ward, maternity, consultation rooms, Out Patient Department and the children’s ward were in place together with the nurses’ house which is yet to be completed. The pharmacy department which comprises of the dispensary, injection room, dressing room, laboratory and two store rooms is under construction and set to be completed soon.”
The project is being funded by Manos Unidas, Anigos and Cordoba among others and will be the third hospital in Hwange Diocese after St. Patrick in Hwange urban and Kariangwe in Binga District.
The Sisters are also in the process of acquiring Tshongokwe Primary and Nhlanhla Secondary School at the request of the local community who believe that Catholic education can help transform their children and shape their future. There are already two Sisters teaching in the primary school. The two schools lie within range of the former Tshongokwe Mission. The acquisition of the schools, according to the Sisters, will bring back the former glory of Tshongokwe with health and education as the two pillars of promotion and advancement of human dignity.
St. Cecilia parish church in Tshongokwe.
Currently, there are six Sisters staying at Tshongokwe with one Sr. Christine Nkomo Makuyana acting as the Sister in Charge of the Hospital. The Congregation of the Missionary Daughters of Calvary, Zimbabwe Province, has 100 Sisters predominantly working in Hwange and Gokwe Dioceses, Zambia and Botswana. The congregation was founded in January 1885 by Enerstina and Enriqueta Larrienzar in Mexico helped by a Framciscan Priest Manuel Ortiz.