|Julius and Oripa Chiwanza|
ZIMUTO – An old and blind couple staying at Copota School for the Blind with their five grandchildren have on many occasions had matohwe and masekesa for supper as there is hardly any decent food them.
Julius Chiwanza (60) who is both asthmatic and sugar diabetic, and his wife Oripa Chiwanza (62) look after their grandchildren at the mission compound where they do not receive any social support.
Chiwanza used to work in the school workshop making furniture but he retired in 2018, meaning he has overstayed in the compound as he was supposed leave when he retired.
“The mission has been gracious to me because they have allowed my family to continue using their accommodation. They, however, cannot afford to support my other needs because they too are in dire straits as they mainly rely on scarce donations.
“Life is very difficult for us and I do not remember the last time we had a decent meal. It’s almost like a lifestyle for us to sleep on empty stomachs and it’s bad especially for the children,” said Julius Chiwanza.
He said they used to beg door to door for food around the community but it was becoming harder for other people too.
“People used to help us with food and other small items and sometimes we would move around the community begging but we do not get enough because everyone is also struggling. Sometimes we do not get anything. On many occasions, the children venture into the bush and bring with them matohwe and masekesa that we eat together before we sleep,” he said.
Julius also said he would be glad to leave the compound for his own place he is trying to build on a piece of land allocated to him close by.
“We have run out of the means to complete the rural home that I have started building. We feel like an unwanted person here because my time is up. I must leave whether they still allow me to stay or not but we don’t have anywhere to go,” he said.
On her part, Oripa said it was heartbreaking to fail to provide for the grandchildren most of whom were simply dumped into their care by their barely responsible daughters.
“Our kitchen is now a bare playing ground because we have sold most of our household utensils to buy food. We would beg for people to take our old stuff in return for food. We are disabled and old but we have capacity to work if given the support to begin a project. We don’t want to be beggars,” she said