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ShelterBox has successfully distributed 805 tents in Chingwizi camp to displaced Zimbabweans in a close partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
In a remote corner of Zimbabwe, thousands of people have left their homes and lands behind and are living in extremely tough conditions at Chingwizi camp. Camp residents have been surviving in the camp since the beginning of February, with many families left sleeping on the bare earth for weeks on end, no more than frail black plastic sheeting keeping their families safe. Due to the remote location, many other agencies have been unable to attend to the needs of those in the camp.
A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) has been in the camp with the support of IOM, who is collaborating with the Zimbabwean authorities to ensure camp life runs as smoothly as possible. For two weeks, the team has organised distributions, overseen teams pitching tents and worked to verify that each tent is received by the people most in need.
Spending time in the camp and meeting persons affected by the loss of their homes is a moving experience for those who visit.
‘People probably think I'm mad for wanting to be back there, but it’s tough when you connect with others in such a dire situation,’ explained recently returned SRT member Sharon Donald. ‘It’s a real privilege to help families move into something safer, and witness the outpouring of thanks over and over again.’
Mrs Mahora found her family sleeping in the dirt
One such family is the Mahora family, formerly of Chivi district. Zvirurami Mahora, 40, is struggling to take care of her five children, aged five to nineteen. Recently widowed, she woke up one morning to find rising water at her doorstep, and moved out with her five children immediately. From living in two solid huts, with an income from gardening and growing vegetables, in the space of a day Mrs Mahora found her family sleeping in the dirt with no way to provide for them.
ZIMBABWE. 12 APR 2014. Mrs Zvirurami Mahora (left) and her 19 year old daughter Courage (right). (Sharon Donald/ShelterBox).
‘My family were living under a black plastic sheet altogether, sleeping on the ground. We have lived like this for two months until we received our ShelterBox tent,’ said Mrs. Mahora, frowning as she contemplates her new situation. ‘Life in the camp is hard and I spend most of my time waiting to receive handouts. I can’t wait to move permanently out of here.’
Tents ‘transforming lives’
SRT member Phil Wheeler is delighted to be able to deliver some relief in the form of the tents:
‘They are really transforming people’s lives in the camp,’ he enthused, ‘the quality of the tent is so high that they can keep people at a comfortable temperature, provide protection against the elements, and help keep out the malaria too - a big concern in Chingwizi.’
Mrs Mahora agreed, a rare smile finding her face as she recalled her first night in the tent. ‘It rained heavily,’ she described, ‘but we had our first comfortable night since we moved to the camp. It was like we were living in a brick house.’