In Zimbabwe the coronavirus has had more far-reaching effects than what meets the eye.
The pandemic is devastating the economy and threatening food security, and has been most deeply felt in marginalized communities and rural areas.
It is this that motivated the FutureLife-Now! programme to distribute food packs to its most vulnerable learners at its 10 pilot schools. The distribution was facilitated by MIET AFRICA, and accompanied by advocacy and training on keeping safe during the time of COVID-19.
The exercise had to be carefully planned. The FutureLife-Now! schools are spread over four provinces in Zimbabwe: Matabeleland South, Midlands, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central.
“From our base in Harare it might take a couple of hours to get to Mashonaland but it can take the whole day to drive to Matabeleland,” said Zimbabwe’s FutureLife-Now! Country Manager, Aussie Ndlovu. “Distribution was arranged per school and we had to ensure that the gatherings comprised less than 50 people, according to social distancing regulations.”
School principals were relied on to identify the most vulnerable families and mobilize those communities. “In some instances the recipients were instructed to come to the school at different times,” explained Ndlovu, “At other schools the recipients would separate into two groups. One group would receive the food pack and the other would receive COVID-19 health and safety training from our FutureLife-Now! coordinators and peer educators.”
The food hampers included 10kg maize meal, rice, sugar beans, cooking oil, soya chunks and salt. The team also issued out COVID-19 masks, COVID-19 awareness booklets and posters.
“The training was very interactive and we were able to impart important information,” added Ndlovu. “For example, we were asked why and how soap kills the virus. We were also asked if ash could be used instead of soap to clean hands.
“All in all, it was very successful. Not only did the families go back home with food packs, but also with factually accurate information on COVID-19.”
Further COVID-19 training is being conducted and continued support is being offered to the schools through the FutureLife-Now! programme.