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Street kids, homeless unfazed by Covid-19

by Staff reporter
06 Apr 2020 at 07:58hrs | Views
THE generality of people living on the streets of Bulawayo are totally ignorant of the need to protect themselves against Covid-19, making them vulnerable to the pandemic.

Personal hygiene and social distancing are key elements in terms of combating the spread of the deadly global pandemic, which has so far claimed more than 60 000 people with more than 1 million infected globally. Zimbabwe has nine confirmed cases and one of them fatal.

A news yesterday took to the streets of Bulawayo and observed that street kids and homeless people in general are vulnerable to contracting Covid-19 as they are living in squalid and unhealthy conditions.

The new crew visited Bulawayo's Centenary Park where some of the homeless people live in a filthy environment. They are susceptible to other diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

They live in makeshift structures situated near a stream overflowing with effluent. Ms Eunice Saungweme is one of the homeless people who were ordered to vacate the city's central business district as part of Government measures to combat the spread of Covid-19. Eunice Saungweme and Grace Moyo She is now staying in a makeshift structure at Centenary Park.

Despite the risk of contracting diseases, Ms Saungweme seemed unfazed as a tin simmering with isitshwala stood next to her. A few metres away from her makeshift structure is the stream of effluent. There is a strong stench emanating from an underground conduit that carries off drainage water and human waste.

"We used to stay at a veranda in front of Jet clothing shop at corner Jason Moyo Street and Leopold Takawira Avenue until police came and ordered us to vacate on Monday because of coronavirus. I am now staying here in the park and we use sewer water, which flows through a stream to cook and bath," she said. Another homeless person, Mr Bernard Kariesu said he was not aware of Covid-19.

"What is coronavirus? I am hearing of it for the first time. All I want is food and nothing else and so this thing of preventing diseases is not applicable to me when my stomach is empty," he said.

His wife, Ms Grace Moyo chips in: "We were ordered to vacate our spot in the central business district because of coronavirus and we decided to come here.

"This place is unhygienic and we are prone to coronavirus and other diseases, but we had no choice since we are homeless." Mr Sibonginkosi Mlotshwa said he left his brother's home in Barbourfields suburb due to poverty.

"I am staying in the streets as you can see for yourself. I left my brother's place because I was starving and now, I rely on handouts in the streets. This issue of coronavirus doesn't apply to me because if I leave the streets, I will starve to death," he said.

Mandla Mdlongwa (18), who has been living on the streets for the past three years, said although he was aware of Covid-19, it was difficult to combat it due to their living in unhygienic conditions.

"It is difficult to fight the spread of coronavirus when you depend on the streets to survive.

"There is absolutely nothing like social distancing or washing hands with sanitisers in the streets. Where do you think we will get those things from?" he asked. The news crew also observed a group of street kids feasting on a loaf of bread without washing their hands."

Source - chronicle