After closing at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the feeding program has reopened in Zimbabwe. On the first day the program reopened in May, 300 children showed up to receive food. Because meals cannot be consumed at the centres, children received their own lunch boxes in which meals are packed to carry home, additional hand washing stations were added to the sites, and social distancing was maintained throughout food service.
Since its inception, MSC Zimbabwe has developed a multitude of programs serving children and families throughout Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city. MSC Zimbabwe runs three residential care facilities for children with disabilities as well as those orphaned or affected by HIV, providing homes to more than 40 children. Additionally, we manage four nutrition programs feeding over 500 children a day, three preschools, and a training center called Potter’s House, which teaches young adults vocational skills.
One of MSC’s nutrition programs benefits the people in Bulawayo living in subhuman conditions on a trash dump. The dump is called the Ngozi Mine and through the work of Mustard Seed, over 200 children receive a meal of sadza (cooked cornmeal) with beans, soya mince, a vegetable and a sachet of a locally brewed finger millet malt drink every day.
In the last year, conditions in Zimbabwe have worsened. There is an economic crisis and a 175% inflation rate. A drought is causing some people to only get running water about once a week. According to the United Nations, about a third of Zimbabwe's 16 million people need humanitarian food aid. More people are making their way to the Ngozi Mine to scrounge for food and pick what they can for their families.
Many children who were not able to get the food that they relied on from Mustard Seed had to find food on the dump. Being able to reopen the feeding program has provided a renewed sense of security and hope for many families who survive on the dump.