Saturday, September 18, 2021
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Covid-19: Woman endures starvation in self-isolation



… as caregiver gets quarantined,
stigmatised

Moses Ziyambi

BIKITA – A coronavirus positive woman who was ordered into
self-isolation six weeks ago says she is on the verge of starvation as all her
food reserves have run-out.

Edith Chisirimunhu, a 26-year-old
single mother of two, tested positive for coronavirus in May while quarantined
at Masvingo Teachers’ College after being repatriated from Botswana weeks after
the beginning of the national lockdown.

Being cared for by her
60-year-old mother, Perina Chinyoka, who takes care of several grandchildren
too, Chisirimunhu says morale at the homestead has now hit rock bottom as they
can hardly afford a single proper meal per day.

The family stays in Chirume Village,
Ward 1, under Chief Mabika, an area which did not get much from the 2019-2010
farming season due to below normal rainfall.

“When I first came back from
self-isolation, I received some support from neighbours and other villagers who
were concerned about my welfare. Some would just prepare food at their homes
and leave it at the periphery of our homestead for my mother to go ad collect.
But now they are finding it difficult to keep doing that as they too are poor
people with nothing much to spare,” Chisirimunhu told TellZim News in a phone
interview.

“Health officials who monitor me
instructed that I find somebody to take away my two children saying they were
too young and could not be expected to keep safe. So some relatives took them
away for over two weeks but they have now brought them back saying they can no
longer continue caring for them for a prolonged period of time. We had thought
I will be certified fully-recovered in few weeks’ time and take them back since
I am asymptomatic,” she said.

At the homestead, she stays alone
in her own separate house and is not allowed to mix with other members of the
family including her minor children; one aged five and the other aged three.

Her mother Perina does much of
the household chores including preparing food for her and the other dependent
minors under her care.

The Ministry of Health and Child
Care officials who frequently visit her to monitor progress in her battle with
the virus, have now ordered her mother into self-quarantine meaning her
movements are severely restricted.

“She is not to venture out to
look for means to support our needs because they consider her a high-risk
suspect. They only allow her to go to the garden and to fetch water at the
borehole. I was retested on 17 June and my mother was also tested on that day, with
her results coming back negative. We were tested again on 01 July and we are
waiting for our results,” she said.

She also said another challenge
was that villagers were now severely prejudicing against her family members due
to the fear of the virus.

“The stigma is too much. They
gave an order that my mother could go and fetch water but only by 4am when
everybody else is still asleep but you find queues at the borehole as early as
4am so people run away from her. The same happens at the cooperative garden
where my mother is supposed to get us some vegetables. The health officials say
she must move around with some hand sanitizer but she can’t afford it,” said
Chisirimunhu.

Masvingo Provincial Social
Welfare Department head Stanislaus Sanyangowe said government had no specific
aid programme for people in Chisirimunhu’s situation but advised aid
organisations could help.

“It’s unfortunate that our office
currently has no programme for such specific cases but we remain open to considering
unique cases. Our office at Nyika growth point could record her issue so that
it could be considered at policy level. We also urge leaders in her community
to help get her name to such organisations like World Food Programme which are
running relief operations in rural communities,” said Sanyangorwe.

Bikita RDC Ward 1 Councillor
Teserai Makhado said he had received a report about the family and had informed
Bikita South Member of Parliament (MP) Josiah Sithole.

“I have learnt about the
difficult situation of that family and I engaged our MP who promised to find
some help. I am currently trying to find other ways of getting some relief to
them,” said Makhado.

 

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