Christmas came early for beneficiaries under the Access to Justice for Girls and Women with Disabilities project, as the Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe team embarked on a week of food distribution in the districts of Mangwe, Bulilima, Chiredzi, Chipinge, Mt Darwin and Mutoko, from the 21st to the 24th of December 2020. This was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic effects. The project, which is funded by United Nations Trust Fund (UNTF), acted in response to the still ongoing effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic on girls and women with disabilities.

Most of which depended on several small scale projects to earn their living. When asked how they used to survive before the pandemic, many spoke of hoarding food and clothes from outside the country or from different cities so as to sell in their communities while some sold fruit and vegetables in small stalls at growth points. One beneficiary had this to say, “I used to hoard fruits and vegetables from Mozambique and sell them at our local growth point, but due to COVID-19 I could not cross the border anymore and even with the little that I had left to sell I could not sell at the growth point because police would come and disband everyone.

It became a very difficult time for my family and I.” The pandemic greatly affected their small businesses as travel was put to a halt, leaving them stranded without any source of income. Further encouraging people to protect themselves against COVID-19 and respecting all regulations, the Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe teams would take a few minutes to see how much their beneficiaries had grasped on information about COVID-19 from prior trainings and workshops. The participatory feedback was impressive and the beneficiaries showed an understanding about the virus and gave well knowledgeable contributions.

Upon receiving their food hampers, beneficiaries broke into songs of praise and appreciation, thanking Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe for coming when they did as they were now distressed about how they would feed their families during the festive season. The delay in rains also further exacerbated that distress as they couldn’t even produce any maize or other farm produce. Hoping for a better tomorrow, the Access to Justice for Girls and Women with Disabilities beneficiaries are set on starting small projects within their groups, in addition to their own sources of income. These include rearing poultry, small scale commercial agriculture and many more.

According to one of their members, “The COVID-19 pandemic has made us realize that one cannot depend on one source of income, no matter how steady it may seem. And working together has promises of producing more outputs, hence a greater profit among us.”

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