THIS article is a special SOS for Mbuya Dhaaa, who is a special needs senior citizen, aged 70+. Mbuya Dhaaa has sores on the scalp, has a cold and is unwell.
By Catherine Murombedzi in Mt Hampden
At times Mbuya Dhaaa goes to bed on an empty stomach. Her usual day sees her sun bathing (kudziya zuva) in her 4 metre yard. As sun goes up, she roams the streets of Betta community before heading home at sunset.
With dementia setting in, with no children to take care of her, Mbuya Dhaaa is a sorry sight, her plight sees one breaking down. She lives alone in a shack, 18km from the capital city of Harare, in the Betta community, Mt Hampden, Zimbabwe.
Betta is peri-urban, geographically, however, as concerns amenities, it is forgotten, one needs to visit the Betta community to appreciate that distance does not denote remoteness, quality and standard of living do.
With an alarming high school drop out rate, child marriages are normalised. Teenage pregnancies see one turning 20 already a mother of two if not three.
Wife-swapping too is socialised, ending up with an abnormal setting, raising up citizens set to repeat the helplessness cycle.
Such is the community Ambuya Dhaaa calls home. She gets food from a few well wishers from her community, which has been her home too for years after retirement more than a decade ago.
Her main benefactor, Patience Muchena, is a neighbour with three dependants, a husband and family too. She helps her husband at their brick making concern subsisting of an oven and pit. Patience supplements her husband’s meagre income by carrying out house chores for the afluent in Fairview and Sandton suburbs, a stone throw’s away from Betta.
A hard worker in her own right, Patience too is running out of the little she shares with Mbuya Dhaaa and her family.
Patience’s little girl, Tanya, aged 10, fetches water for Mbuya daily after school. At times, Tanya accompanies mom to weekend jobs and plays with her baby brother while mom tends to her temporary piece meal jobs.
The Betta community has no running water, relies on the NRZ borehole which is open for all to have the precious liquid. The community has no standard ablution facilities, posing a health risk from cholera and typhoid.
The borehole is a hive of activity with social distancing a pipe dream. The risk to COVID-19 is real and scary. Two more boreholes are an urgent requirement to make hygiene a part of the community. The community knows all the hygiene rules however, practise is not easy under the conditions prevailing in Betta.
Zimbabwe has no land shortage, it therefore beats one why families of up to ten are crammed in a 300 square metre ground tbey all call home.
Currently, the Betta community which relies on brick moulding and daily manual jobs in the environs of Mt Hampden, Nyabira, Stapleford and Gwebi is incapacitated as they observe the national lockdown to halt the spread of COVID-19. Near starvation, the community needs urgent help.
For Mbuya Dhaaa, Betta is not anything one can call a home, she lives a nightmare. She requires to be taken to a safety net, a home for the aged.
In the Betta community is Northcourt Centre, housing an orphanage. The centre two weeks ago took in homeless street children.
The story of the homeless children from the streets is a story for another day.
Desperate people from Betta community scrounge the bins at Northcourt, push and shove for the crumbs. (Kurwira goko).
Such is the magnitude of hunger in the forgotten community.
For Mbuya Dhaaa, may this article see her being housed in a proper home with senior citizens to spend her days with and recuperate.
Together, we can bring a smile to Mbuya Dhaaa and Betta community.