Zimbabwe then and now

_44502733_dollar_203A friend of mine who recently returned from Harare described how Zimbabwe has been devastated by the political and economic turmoil. People carry around bags full of money just to pick up a few groceries — if you can find them at all. And no one tries to steal your money — it’s just not worth it. Especially now that the inflation rate has hit an unfathomable 231 million percent, and the government has started issuing a $50 billion note.

My family moved to Zimbabwe in 1980, the year of its independence from Britain. It was a good time for the country because of a newfound hope and promise. It was a beautiful country but even then, at the best of times, we were always dealing with droughts, food shortages, and frequent trips to South Africa to stock up on supplies. We left Zimbabwe in 1987 when it appeared that things were starting to deteriorate. We would never have imagined that it could get this bad. And it doesn’t seem to be at the bottom yet.

One of the best sources of news about the country and its struggling neighbors is the dedicated coverage on the BBC’s site. In particular, its recent reportage about the stunning cholera epidemic, exacerbated by the collapse of government services as well as all functioning hospitals, is truly heartbreaking.

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