The role of field worker for ZANE in Zimbabwe is hugely challenging but also very rewarding. Every day is different; one cannot predict what the week will bring. I might start Monday full of hope and end it in tears of frustration. Equally, I might have the worst start to the day with a traumatic assessment of a pensioner in dire need, and end it drinking tea and laughing with a veteran whose health has been transformed thanks to effective diabetic medicine.
What follows is a snapshot of one week in September 2019 and all it entailed.
I awake at 6.30am to discover we have electricity. This is such a rare occurrence these days; for months it has only been on between midnight and 5am – on a good day. I quickly put on the washing machine, boil the kettle and prepare a hasty meal for the evening, hardly believing my luck! By the time I leave for the office 90 minutes later, normal service has resumed and the electricity is off.
We have a weekly team meeting each Monday morning where we plan for the week and discuss all the developments of the previous week. Sharing stories and receiving advice from our small team is invaluable. We frequently meet pensioners who are in absolute dire straits but, with limited funds available, we have to make tough decisions and constantly try to prioritise – not easy when everyone is a priority
I couldn’t do this without the support of my colleagues.
After the meeting, I go to assess Patricia*, a lady of 84 who might need ZANE’s help. It’s immediately apparent that she is struggling to cope on her own. She has some nasty bruises from when she fell trying to climb out of the bath. Her cupboards are empty and she is painfully thin. We chat for over an hour; it’s clear company is a rare thing for Patricia. I leave her with some E’pap – a nutritional food supplement – and make a note to put a plan in place for a carer to start visiting her the following week.
*Names have been changed
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