Public donations for the joint Zimbabwe emergency and development appeal launched by the Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury and York, have reached £292,330, the administrators of the fund announced this week.
The appeal has highlighted the support needed by churches in the southern African nation, which are struggling to feed the hungry and to provide health care in a social and economic system which has been on the brink of collapse for several months.
In a joint statement at the weekend, the two archbishops, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu, said: "The support of the general public has been overwhelming and we have been humbled by the response so far. We know that rebuilding Zimbabwe is a long-term aim and this short intervention is still only reaching a small number of the many millions in need. Thank you for enabling us to do this."
They continued: "Our brother Bishops in Zimbabwe have highlighted the need for immediate relief activities to address the cholera epidemic and starvation, but also [ask] that we support programmes that provide long term solutions to poverty. So at their request we will be providing seed-corn for crops in time for the planting season which normally starts [at the] end of October."
They added: "More of the dioceses of Zimbabwe are expected to send in their specific requirements in the next few weeks and they have told us that their focus will be on the most vulnerable in their communities; those living with HIV, the elderly as well as children."
Staff from the Anglican mission agency USPG and from Lambeth Palace, have recently returned from meeting with the Zimbabwe Anglican bishops and their staff to hear their long terms plans for community work in the areas of health, agriculture and peace building.
"While we know that food is the first priority, we have also committed to buy medicines, initially for six clinics and we expect the first of these vital medical supplies to be dispatched in the next weeks." a spokesperson said.
Three Anglican dioceses, those of Central Zimbabwe, Masvingo and Matabeleland, are the first to roll out the supplementary feeding programme in schools and Easter week saw the first food distributed through church schools.
The Rt Revd Michael Doe, General Secretary of USPG: Anglicans in World Mission, said:
"We've been astounded by the response of the general public and we thank all those that have supported the Archbishops' appeal over Lent – we know of many more churches and dioceses who have pledged to support the appeal in the Easter season and beyond."
The Archbishops' appeal, which is being administered on their behalf by USPG, will be accepting donations for the rest of 2009.