Every morning Christine Muto sends her seven-year-old son, Jude, to go and eat porridge at a free food kitchen popularly known as Kuchengetana Trust, in Chitungwiza, Harare.
Jude usually refuses to wake up to go and eat the free meal because of the morning chill, which he views as torture. Faced with a dwindling pantry, Muto has decided to try some tough love: If she does not give Jude any food in the morning, maybe he’ll go and eat the free breakfast, which will leave more food at home for lunch.
“I eat lunch if there’s enough,” said Muto. “But my children are the most important. They have to eat first.”
“I always urge Jude to go to eat the free porridge so that I can save the little I have,” she added.
The fear of being unable to feed her children hangs over Muto’s days. She and her husband, pit one bill against the next — transport fares to work against gas for cooking, rent against extra lesson fees for their children — trying always to set aside money to make up for what they can’t get from the free food kitchen.
The cost of living in Zimbabwe is now high. Prices have soared in recent months, and groceries have become more expensive. Rents are rising, and it’s getting harder and harder for people to stay on their feet. The majority are unemployed, stricken with poverty and they are the hungriest. Some neighbourhoods do have working families but still they can’t afford groceries. Hunger has grown faster across suburbs due to lockdowns.
In late March, an executive order was placed by the Government to close all non-essential businesses and schools across the country to prevent the spread of Covid-19. For some citizens, business was simply on pause. However, for the majority who live below the poverty line, it left them suffering from food-insecurity and feeling uncertain about their future.
“How will we put food on the table? I suffer from diet-related health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. I don’t want to die early, but the inability to obtain nutritious food is a huge obstacle. It’s really hurtful and stressful to me sometimes when it comes to trying to feed myself and my family. I really do appreciate the kitchen for providing us with food. It really means a lot. And this means a lot to all of us in this community,” said Muto.
Throughout the rise of the pandemic in Zimbabwe, Kuchengetana Trust, a well-known free food kitchen in Chitungwiza, has been the boots on the ground cooking for hundreds of families in their community during this Covid-19 crisis.
One part of the non-profit’s mission outreach is making sure that at least every child in the community gets a meal for survival. Some adults are also served supper in the evenings. With the majority of residents living without a stable income, Kuchengetana Trust knew they had to step in.
“I started this initiative because I noticed most people do not have money to buy food as most of them are no longer working. I also just love cooking for people,” said Samantha Muzoroki, founder of Kuchengetana Trust. Even when it’s so cold to wake up early morning she doesn’t care. She won’t let anyone see her shiver. There’s a reason that she’s out in the cold every day. She has to feed the children and several families. She has dedicated Kuchengetana Trust to be all about giving back to others. She’ll do whatever it takes to make sure she has taken care of her community.
Kuchengetana Trust’s selfless work on the frontlines is the reason why people in Chitungwiza still have hope. Muzoroki is an everyday hero who chooses to be a part of the solution to end hunger. One person willing to take action, multiplied by many, is how hope happens.
Muzoroki was taught the principles of generosity by her parents and they are now woven through every part of her life. She is always looking for a way to do good for the people around her.
When asked about her reasons for giving, Muzoroki said: “I strongly believe in humanitarian work. Let me help. Let me show some love.
Love is actually just really caring for the next person. Let me do the little that I can do to put a smile on people’s faces, to let someone know that someone loves them and is thinking of them.”
Muzoroki also expressed her gratitude to her family and friends: “They have helped me in so many ways and encouraged me to keep on going. Sometimes I do not even know where the next meal will come from but somehow someone always chips in to help. I am really thankful for that. They’re working hard to really, really try to help me, and I appreciate everything that they’re doing to make Kuchengetana Trust a success.”