MUTARE – When Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared a lockdown period aimed at controlling the spread of the deadly COVID-19, Tendai Muzuu (23), a physically challenged informal trader, was grossly affected.
Muzuu, a Sakubva high density resident who is wheelchair bound, used to survive from informal trading.
The subsequent lockdown and impact to Zimbabwe’s economy has severely impacted on access to income, further exacerbating conditions for those already living in poverty.
While, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended lockdown as a precaution to stop the spread of coronavirus that has wreaked havoc globally, many disadvantaged people in Zimbabwe are now living in the throes of debilitating hunger.
However, for Mazuu and other disadvantaged people in Mutare, last Saturday was a day to remember as they received hampers to cushion them during the lockdown period.
Access Forex, a company which provides remittance services for Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom and South Africa, has committed itself to join the fight against poverty during the lockdown period by donating some hampers to 150 disadvantaged families at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Mutare.
The families received the hampers under the organisation’s Feed a Million initiative in partnership with Caritas Zimbabwe.
Addressing stakeholders at the handover ceremony, Access Forex chairman Isau Bwerinofa said his company was striving to make a tangible impact to the communities in which the organisation is operating.
“We are here in support of the government’s initiative in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. These are tough times in our country and these require that we all act positively. This handover of the food and non-food hampers is a way of recognising the plight of the vulnerable in community,” Bwerinofa said.
“Due to this lockdown, we realise that there are vulnerable people within our community who cannot go out of their homes and we thought it wise to come to them with this donation,” he added.
Each hamper included food items like mealie-meal, macaroni, cooking oil, sugar, salt, flour, chunks, sugar beans, maheu, among others.
Non-food items included liquid soap, water guards, menstrual cups, disinfectants, among others.
Programmes manager for Caritas Mutare, Nhamo Hondoyemoto applauded the initiative.
“We seek to address hunger and poverty through our work, and this strong partnership with Access Forex will help us work towards dismantling poverty during this lockdown period,” he said.
“During the selection process, we did not discriminate on political, social and church affiliation. We worked with the Department of Social Welfare, Old People’s homes and various churches in coming up with the beneficiaries,” Hondoyemoto said.
“We are complementing government’s initiative in assisting those in dire need during the lockdown period. It is our commitment to uplift livelihoods in this time of national crisis,” he added.
Muzuu, after receiving his hamper, said: “I am happy with what has been done by Access Forex and Caritas. I want to thank them for remembering us at this time of need. I no longer had food at home but now l have it.”
“As one living with a disability, l was surviving on informal trading and begging which has been affected by the lockdown. But I have food now,” Muzuu added.
Access Forex has so far rolled out the initiative in Harare, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Masvingo and Mutare.