THE newly-renovated children’s section of the Bulawayo Public Library was officially handed over to the city council by the outgoing Australian ambassador to Zimbabwe Matthew Neuhaus.
The refurbishment was funded by the Australian embassy to meet world standards and Neuhaus said although Zimbabwe and Australia’s relations had been frosty, future relations looked promising.
The Australian embassy donated $17 447 for the building renovations. The library faced closure in 2012 as it was in dire need of financial aid, refurbishment and general management since membership had been dropping drastically since the 1990s.
“The Australian embassy has had a long relationship with Zimbabwe and though we are aware of almost all the problems Bulawayo might be facing, right now we focus on children’s education because they are the future,” Neuhaus said.
“The past can be the past, but the future does not have to be like that,” he said after narrating a story of how an Australian man once broke his arm while being arrested in Zimbabwe under false allegations of operating without a licence a few years ago.
He urged library users to think of it as a mustard seed that is small, but will grow bigger and help others in future, instead of waiting for more donations.
“The youngsters that will be using these resources here have to use this to make themselves grow and manage to help others in future.
“This is my last visit to Bulawayo as an ambassador, but I will definitely be back here to run personal errands. I don’t want to hear anyone come to the Australian government asking for more donations.
“President (Robert) Mugabe recently said in the African Union (AU) that Africa must use its own resources to develop and I agree with him on that. We are responsible for our lives and I expect to see Zimbabwe like Australia in the near future raising its income and helping other African countries,” he said.
In a speech read on his behalf, Bulawayo mayor Martin Moyo expressed gratitude to the Australian embassy for the gesture saying this showed the reality of a global village.
“Bulawayo is more than pleased to partner with the Australian embassy and the people of Australia to help the city create an educated child,” said Moyo.
“This gesture means we are not alone in the race of advocating for a 100% literacy rate starting at an early age.”