Refugees eating lunch outside their tents.
“How are you going to spend Father’s Day?” Fulufhedzani Mulovhedzi asked some of the refugees staying at the shelter provided by the Musina Ministry Compassion Church. This was a year ago, shortly before Father’s Day.
Mulovhedzi had noticed the men before when she drove past them on her way to a popular café. The 27-year-old diagnostic radiographer works at Musina Hospital and usually visits the nearby shop to buy lunch. She had been living in Musina for a few years but knew very little of what happened at the shelter.
“One day, coming from my usual lunch spot, I decided to visit the shelter and see how these refugees were living,” she says. The following day was Father’s Day, so out of curiosity she decided to spend the day with the refugees.
Mulovhedzi quickly found out that very few of the refugees knew what Father’s Day was about. For them, the biggest need was to get enough food to survive and to stay warm at night.
“They were sleeping on the floor and some had no blankets. Most of them were not employed, so they made a living out of begging. The place was dusty,” Mulovhedzi recalled. She was worried that they would contract diseases such as TB.
The following day, she brought along some bread, but still she felt this was not enough. Mulovhedzi was no stranger to poverty and difficult living conditions. She grew up at Mashau Doli village just outside Elim, where many poor families live. The conditions at the shelter reminded her of how families in rural areas struggle for survival.
Mulovhedzi then embarked on a drive to collect blankets for the refugees. At that stage, almost 250 refugees were staying at the shelter. She made a plea on social media to the Musina community to help and managed to collect more than 100 blankets, which were handed out to the refugees.
A year later, Mulovhedzi has embarked on another drive to collect blankets for the refugees. This time, however, the challenge is much bigger. Bishop Simon Sithole, the founder of the church, estimates that they give shelter to an average of 800 refugees every month. With the latest unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the numbers are rising.
Mulovhedzi has thus far received 80 blankets, but many more are needed. Anyone willing to make a donation can contact her at 078 418 3526.
Date:08 July 2019 - By: Bernard Chiguvare
Bernard Chiguvare is a Zimbabwean-born journalist. He writes mainly for the online publication, Groundup.