It goes without saying that 2020 was a year of great challenge. Communities across the globe have struggled against the implications of the pandemic, with tales of turmoil dominating the news. Economic and health concerns are among the main talking points of the moment, but while there is much focus on how richer nations are trying (and often struggling) to control the virus, little is being reported from the countries where tackling the virus is likely particularly difficult.
Here at Ruff’s Kitchens, it is our aim to provide support to underprivileged communities in rural Zimbabwe. We have been able to do this via our feeding programme, which helps to feed children a nutritionally-balanced meal at school and is funded by your generous donations. As well as ensuring that Zimbabwe’s vulnerable youth remain fed, the programme encourages more children to enroll in school and to receive an education, making this a very valuable programme indeed.
With all of that said, the spread of COVID-19 has indeed had an impact on Zimbabwe, which in turn caused some issues for Ruff’s Kitchens’ feeding programme. We are pleased to say that a number of problems have been rectified and that, in fact, dealing with the complications of the pandemic has allowed our team to learn how to better-assist the local communities; we extend our sincere gratitude to the folk on the ground over in Zimbabwe who have been working tirelessly to make a difference, and of course we thank all of those who were able to donate to the cause throughout December.
The hard work continues, and further donations are both necessary and profoundly appreciated. You can see how your donations have helped the cause by reading the report below (shared with us by our wonderful partners at Zimbabwe’s Children), and we shall continue to keep you updated with how, together, we can help the country’s at-risk communities through this crisis.
The year 2020 has been a big challenge for Zimbabweans. The economy has continued to plummet, the fifth year of drought made growing food difficult, and a global pandemic further threatened the existence of our own feeding programme. In March, all schools were closed to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic. Since hunger has no boundaries, all stakeholders (including our main funder, Ruff’s Kitchens) negotiated and agreed that children could be fed at home. Parents collected food for their children with each child given 1kg of mahewu per month.
In September (third term) some school openings started in phases, with examination sitting classes going back first. There is only one year group for primary school that sits exams, which is Grade 7; the others are in high schools. With no testing being done in rural areas, it was decided the safest route would be to continue distribution of food through giving the parents 1kg of mahewu per child in their family.
However, when collecting food we heard very sad stories about babies and younger toddlers (who are not included in the school feeding) going hungry, so we approached Ruff’s Kitchens to help those parents. We were very grateful to receive enough food to cater for another 1500 babies and young children, which left many guardians so happy and relieved that every child was accounted for.
Sanitising gloves and masks: Volunteer helpers and parents who assisted in the distribution process wore gloves and masks and were sanitised before handling the packs of food.
Social distancing: Parents stood in a single file and were asked to maintain a social distance of at least 2m. After collection and checking, parents were told to vacate the school to avoid crowding.
Registers: School attendance registers were used to be certain that the food was given to the right children. I was also present at every school to monitor the distribution process. This became an invaluable task as I got to know many more of the children’s home situations, i.e who lived in a child-headed home, how many elderly grandparents looked after orphan grandchildren, and who required further intervention. This has been an unforeseen advantage for us.
Teachers, parents and children are always very grateful to the organisations involved for bringing them such a life-saving programme! They tell me that the words ‘thank you’ just never seem enough to say, as it makes everything better to offer their children a porridge drink with the nutrients they need, especially those who live with HIV/AIDS as their medicine does not work without those nutrients. It’s a lifesaver in many more ways than just feeding.
We pray and hope the programme will continue until the harvesting period (after the 2020-2021 agricultural season). They further wish for schools to reopen as it lures children to attend school. Due to poverty some cannot afford to buy food with enough vitamins and proteins, let alone breakfast. They continue to send their gratitude through me to all the donors concerned who have made this programme possible.
RECOMMENDATION FOR 2021
COVID infections and deaths are escalating fast due to the new South African type of virus. Many Zimbabweans who live in South Africa came home for Christmas holidays and, whilst mingling all over the country, they brought the virus with them without being aware. Hospitals and clinics do not have the equipment and specialists necessary to do anything for the very bad cases, so people are dying unnecessarily. The Government has advised that schools are not opening as scheduled until further notice, but will remain closed for a minimum period of 31 days. I strongly recommend the continuation of the feeding programme as usual during the hard times where most poor families cannot afford decent meals per day. Due to lockdowns, some families are unable to work and are now relying on hand-to-mouth scenarios. The feeding programme has therefore been particularly necessary during this very tough year, although very successful, thanks to the work between Ruff’s Kitchens, Feeding Minds, Ministry of Education, councilors and all stakeholders who were involved in the distribution of the food. I wish you all a happy 2021 and hope we will have another successful year. THANK YOU!’
Please support us by donating now. Just ten pounds can feed a child for a whole year.