Mary* used to be a hair dresser, hardly making enough to survive, living with her in-laws, sharing a room with eleven others. Old sheets served as room dividers and were Mary’s only privacy.
When there were no more hairdressing customers, Mary took to the streets of the city, selling old clothes on the pavements, trying to make a few dollars for food and medicine.
Mary is 65 and asthmatic but, hard as she tried, it wasn’t long before she even lost her space in the overcrowded room.
Mary moved to a camp site on the outskirts of the city and found a place amongst a small community of people where fifteen elderly men and women with nowhere else to go live in old tents. They are all totally reliant on the goodwill of strangers and donations from well wishers.
Very few in the group have family that are able to help them and none are able to find jobs in a country where unemployment is around 90%.
They collect fire wood in the bush to cook on open fires, carrying water from a communal ablution block, surviving on the contents of a charitable food parcel which each person receives once a month.
There is no hot water at the site and many in the group are vulnerable to health problems due to the harsh living conditions, exposure to the elements, poor sanitation and lack of easy access to clean water.
David* is one of the residents in the small tented camp. He’s been living there for four years and is a mechanic by trade but, apart for the odd part time job, hasn’t been able to find full time work.
David is 65 and helps other frailer residents of the tented camp, collecting fire wood for them and doing odd jobs.
ZANE regularly visits residents in the tented camp, assists with their health and well-being, takes people to doctors where necessary, provides medicines and helps in any way they can.
Recently ZANE delivered extra blankets to residents in the tented camp, much appreciated now when temperatures are dropping as Zimbabwe’s winter sets in.
David and Mary never imagined that their lives would come to this; that they wouldn’t be able to support themselves with their skills or that they would become homeless, helpless and totally at the mercy of strangers.
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* Names have been changed on grounds of security