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A family kitchen in Zimbabwe is fighting lockdown hunger: 'We can't turn them away'

Immigration lawyer Samantha Murozoki was moved by her neighbor's story of hunger to start a food kitchen in her neighborhood.

A family kitchen in Zimbabwe is fighting lockdown hunger: 'We can't turn them away'
Image Source: Semalho / Twitter

Samantha Shingirai Murozoki is an immigration lawyer in Zimbabwe. When lockdown restrictions were imposed in the African nation owing to the ongoing pandemic, she noticed her community experienced severe food insecurity. Rather than wait for the government to do something about it, she decided to get to work. The lawyer began a feeding program a week into the lockdown, feeding hungry mouths in her neighborhood. At first, it was self-funded. Ever since then, the initiative has grown to unprecedented heights and folks have even come forward to send in donations. Murozoki has also received immense praise for her efforts, and she does not plan to stop anytime soon, The Guardian reports.



"I started with a two-kilogram packet of rice and 500 grams of beans," the philanthropist explained in an interview with the news outlet. "The number of people needing food has doubled since then. It’s not something that I had planned for." At present, the queues for food at her small, barebones soup kitchen setup stretches for quite a distance. Folks begin lining up at 7 am for a simple meal of warm porridge. They all wear masks and practice social distancing as much as possible. The winding queues for food have been called a "sign of desperation." The township of Chitungwiza, on the outskirts of Harare, is still under lockdown in an effort to keep the number of cases low. This, however, comes at the cost of widespread hunger.



Murozoki uses a few utensils: a makeshift stove, a couple of large pots, and other bits. At first, she handled the initiative independently, but she has since recruited volunteers to help her. Now, a team of women serves and washes up the utensils and several folks watch the children, who are never turned away. At one point, the lawyer even had to sell her possessions in order to keep the soup kitchen going. She said, "When my money ran out I started bartering food supplies with my jeans and sneakers." She started the food program after a neighbor had told her about how her family had gone to bed hungry because work and even informal trade have been choked out under the lockdown.



She gained praise when she posted photos of her initiative online. "After I posted pictures of what I was doing on WhatsApp my friends and family chipped in to help out," Murozoki said. "A colleague also decided to put my story on Twitter and Facebook, that is how the Zimbabwean community started helping out. They have been donating groceries and some are even wiring money from overseas." The lawyer does not turn anyone away: "We just get people coming in to register their families, so we do not segregate. The lockdown is affecting everyone. We cannot turn people away because everyone wants food."



Of course, people have been immensely grateful for her and her initiative. "I was moved by her love," said Anastencia Hove, a mother. "It is rare to find people who think about others. So I said as a token of my appreciation for her support, I should volunteer. This lockdown has not spared us at all, so people are suffering. The number of people I see here shows that many are hungry." For these reasons, Murozoki plans to continue her efforts even after the lockdown is lifted. She shared, "Even if the lockdown is lifted, I might continue for a month or so until everyone gets back on their feet. As long as Zimbabweans help me, I will be able to continue with my work." If you would like to make a donation, you can do so here.


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