After her husband died, Thandekile struggled to provide food for her two children, Nomatter (11) and Forward (8) Photo Credit: Cynthia R Matonhodze.
This Mother’s Day, Trócaire is calling on the people of Co Louth to remember mothers around the world who are caring for their children through extraordinary challenges such as conflict, climate change and Covid-19.
This year, Trócaire’s Lenten Box features a family – widow Thandekile and her two children Nomatter (8) and Forward (11) – based in southern Zimbabwe who face massive daily challenges in their lives.
The challenges Thandekile faces as a mother are immense.
In November 2020, the family’s already fragile world was turned upside down when Covid-19 hit. Thandekile’s husband Donovan (35) passed away from Covid-19 in South Africa where he was working to earn an income so he could provide for his family. Thandekile’s greatest fear now is that she will die from Covid-19 or hunger, and that there will be no-one to look after her children.
Even before Covid-19, Thandekile and her family were facing hunger as droughts and heavy rainfall caused their plants and crops to fail. The family would often go nights without eating as food was not always available in their community.
According to the World Food Programme, 63 per cent of the Zimbabwe population of over 15 million live under the poverty line. Before the coronavirus outbreak, 7.7 million Zimbabweans faced food shortages after a drought and cyclone in 2019, and ongoing drought in the last year has exacerbated the situation. This has been worsened by rampant inflation.
“I live for my children and my wish is to be able to provide for all their needs. My greatest fear is to die whilst my kids are still young. I pray that the Lord keeps me so that I raise them until they are old enough to take care of themselves,” Thandekile says.
“The death of my husband hit me very hard and I was bed-ridden for days. I did not know how I was going to move on and raise my children without the presence of their father,” she says.
Following the death of her husband Thandekile struggled even more to provide food for her family. Grieving for her husband meant that she couldn’t engage in farming activities which delayed the planting of crops and made them even more vulnerable to heavy rainfall.
“Following Donovan’s passing, my life was very hard financially since he was the breadwinner. It also affected my ability to earn an income as at times I would be so stressed and too sick to even go out and work. I did not have the means to pay school fees for the children, to buy uniforms and all our other basic needs because I had no source of income,” she says.
“Due to Covid-19, a lot of businesses were shut down which made a lot of people unemployed. This worsened the ability for anyone to have access to money or at least get a job. Children could not go to school because of the lockdown and you can tell that their progress has been greatly affected.”
Irish woman Eimear Lynch, who works with Trócaire in Zimbabwe, says that the Irish public’s donations this Lent will be vital to support families who are struggling from the effects of Covid-19 and Climate Change.
“Thandekile and her family have had an extremely difficult time in the last few years. Thandekile was already struggling with shortages of food when her husband died from Covid-19. Since then, Thandekile found it even more difficult to buy food for her children Nomatter and Forward and to pay for their school fees and medicines,”
Ms Lynch says Thandekile is keen to thank the Irish public for their support and love during Lent and what is such a difficult time for her family, community, and the people of Zimbabwe.
“The greatest gift that people can give to one another in life is food and money, because we need it to survive. What gives me hope is that I am still alive despite all that we have been through as a family. Whatever the problems you have been through in life, it is important to dust yourself off and move on, have hope and work hard for the children even if it’s very difficult. I thank the people of Ireland for all the help you give to us, please do not tire,” Thandekile says.
To order a Trócaire box go to: Trócaire Box Order Form - Trócaire (trocaire.org) or donate online at www.Trócaire.org.
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