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Sustainable Livelihoods and Health (Zimbabwe)

Families in Muzarabani and Gokwe Districts in rural Zimbabwe were looking forward to being financially independent this year, but when COVID-19 lockdowns hit, their livelihoods selling produce at local markets evaporated like rain on the dusty road.

Run by the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe through the Methodist Development & Relief Agency (MeDRA) and supported by the Australian Government, the project they are part of supports small livelihoods projects such as raising chickens, pigs and goats to a generate both food and a sustainable income.

At the age of 64, Conceptar is no ordinary grandmother. Since 2009, she has cared for her orphaned grandchildren. There are now six children to house, feed, educate and clothe, but since joining the project in 2014, Conceptar says it has been a source of hope for her and her family.

Income from the sale of chickens (particularly) was providing food and education to Conceptar’s household and many others, but when Zimbabwe went into lockdown due to COVID-19 everything changed.

“Everything seemed to be evaporating in my life as it became very difficult to sell produce from the project,” said Conceptar.

“The disease has brought a sad face to the project as markets got closed.”

As large markets supplying local restaurants shut, the sale of produce became impossible. Conceptar’s family could no longer afford to buy food. They had to survive on one meal a day.

But hope was not lost when Conceptar learnt that MeDRA was already on their way to distribute food and support to her family and others in the village.

“I want to thank MeDRA for coming to my rescue as I got a food hamper which will go [a] long way to safeguard the food situation of my family,” said Conceptar.

She said her grandchildren rejoiced at the thought of being able to enjoy a cup of hot tea again thanks to MeDRA.

UnitingWorld had been supporting MeDRA to handover leadership of this project to communities by July this year. Due to COVID-19, this will be delayed to the end of June 2021, in order to ensure that families are supported through this difficult time of COVID-19 and the economic challenges this exacerbates and are able to maintain their livelihoods activities. After June 2021, we will continue to work with MeDRA and the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe by supporting the training of church leaders and youth leaders in addressing gender based violence, child protection, disability inclusion and human trafficking in their communities.

Thank you for supporting this work through your donations to our tax-time appeal. Your support and solidarity mean so much, especially in this global crisis. Thank you.

This project is also supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). Thanks to ANCP, we are making a huge difference together; lifting families out of poverty and helping people improve their lives.

My name is Anna and I am 58 years old.  I live in Gokwe South. I’m a proud member of a group started by the Methodist Church of Zimbabwe Relief and Development (MeDRA) in 2017.

Our group is called kunzwa nekuita which means ‘hearing and doing’. As well as education about health and hygiene, we began an internal lending and savings project to help boost our household income. We started our poultry breeding project with 50 chickens and sell an average of 6 chickens to neighbours at an average monthly income of 800ZLW (A$3.17)

We inject this money back into our group so we can expand our activities. We encourage our communities to maintain clean homes free from litter and practise personal hygiene by washing with soap and water. We’ve also taught our community to erect tippy taps at their homes, dig rubbish tips and use blair toilets.

Recently MeDRA staff visited us to provide COVID-19 awareness to our group and gave us education and communication materials for an in-depth knowledge of the disease. We weren’t sure about the hand washing, social distancing, symptoms of COVID-19 or the referral path for a person suspected of a COVID-19 infection, but we now have flyers and posters so we can prevent the spread of the disease.

As a group we really feel there is a need to reach out to men as they have challenges in practicing measures given by our government on COVID-19 prevention. Many men also believe hygiene is only a women’s issue and do not take awareness campaigns seriously.

I would like to thank MeDRA for supporting us with this education so we can spread the word and keep our community safe from COVID-19. I also feel there is a great need for sanitisers, masks and more training to prevent the myths about the disease from spreading.

If we remain united and practice the regulations, we are very hopeful we can fight COVID-19 in our community.

UnitingWorld’s partner, the Methodist Church of Zimbabwe Relief and Development Agency (MEDRA) is working to raise awareness and stop the spread of COVID-19. While many regular activities are currently on hold due to lockdowns, the team have re-focussed all their energy toward providing vulnerable communities with education and awareness on COVID-19, as well as supplying food and sanitation items like soap and hand washing stations.

You can help by donating today to our COVID-19 appeal. Please give to help save lives and protect livelihoods.

*As a valued partner of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program, we are eligible for funding that means tax-time donations can go up to six times as far in the field saving lives. We’ve committed to raise $1 for every $5 for which we’re eligible, and that’s where your donation has its power.

Every dollar will be used for immediate COVID-19 responses providing food and sanitation packs, health information and hand washing facilities, as well as fighting to keep poverty at bay long term through sustainable development projects.

Please give at www.unitingworld.org.au/actnow or call us on 1800 998122

UnitingWorld is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).