Covid-19 a curse or a blessing to young people in Zimbabwe

Tatenda Rukarwa
Posted May 5, 2020 from Zimbabwe
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When I look at the young people today during this Covid-19 pandemic all I see is tears from within, uncertainty of their future and mostly fear of the unknown. Many questions linger in their minds, is this purpose we are living for to suffer at the mercy of a pandemic? The alarming rate of infection and death rates has made young people sceptical and conclude that surely their future is bleak.

When a total lockdown was officialised in Zimbabwe, schools had closed earlier deterring young people from fully utilising educational facilities both in urban and rural schools. The young people in Universities had to go back home within a week of opening school, they have been deprived of a right to education. Although some resort to online learning, a good initiative, I look back at my rural friends-where will they access internet from? Even urbanites are finding it hard to cope with these ICT trends. The young people are suffering because their sources of income have been closed. Covid-19 is now like a generational curse which is haunting most people whether rich or poor , we all need to be active in safeguarding the young people as the future generation have a legacy from which they can pick from but corona has other thoughts in mind.

Young people are losing loved ones and bread winners to this pandemic. Apparently, gender based violence increases because of the lack of resources in households.  There have been a rise in child-headed families, many are vulnerable and are easy prey for scavengers who want to utilise this opportunity to destroy the future of our young people by abusing them in exchange for money and sex. Our morals as young people are being tested, but due to desperation we are losing it bit by bit so that we can fend for our families.

Young people have lost their employment due to most companies shutting down during this pandemic. Some of their small start-ups have been demolished by the city councils to enable a safer environment for the citizens of Zimbabwe. All these contribute to the economic hardships to the young people. Their hard earned resources getting destroyed and counting these losses leads to high rates of mental health scares. Substance abuse increases in the name of relieving stresses caused by Covid-19, our generation is dying because we are not able to adapt to changes in lifestyle as the world is quickly changing in the face of the pandemic.

Young people are succumbing to hunger fears than Covid-19 pandemic. Malnutrition shall rise as our parents do not have means of finding work to sustain their households. Food relief is being availed to the disadvantaged communities but is it reaching the intended targets? Will it be sustainable for the families? All these questions are in the young people’s minds but who can answer them. Non-governmental organisations have brought programs such as food for work initiatives to boost household nutrition levels but lockdown has led to the closure of such programs to ensure the pandemic does not spread in the country.

Water and sanitation issues are also a major contributor to young girls and boys succumbing to long hours waiting at borehole queues just to get water for household use. They spend almost the whole day in line, these places become hubs for substance abuse, sexual abuse as girls resort to offering their bodies for the so called borehole mafia’s can give them water or make them jump the line. It is a sad situation but what can we do as young people as running water is scarce. Although the government issued a statement that water should be availed in all councils responsible all over the country but it is a different scenario for my hometown in Chitungwiza. You can get it once in two weeks and it will be dirty with green like substances floating, it is not hygienic but you have no choice than to fill up the water for consumption. It is a saddening situation, there is no social distancing at these places and one is highly susceptible to the pandemic.

 

Another major concern is the issue of affordability and accessibility of sanitary wear for young women and girls in this pandemic. Water is critical for their menstrual hygiene management. The costs of sanitary wear has risen and looking at the economy how many can afford to buy and the lockdown has led to many streams of income being shut down. How will our young women and girls bleed without fear? It is at this juncture that we should ensure that no girl or young woman is left behind during this pandemic. They are the mothers of tomorrow therefore they need to be safeguarded as jewels of the society. We have many organisations running to rural areas with supplies but have we checked if sanitary wear is availed to the vulnerable in society during this time. Now there is need for a low cost sanitary wear like reusable cloth pads which last longer to curb the need for girls and young women to have stress on how their next menstrual cycle shall be. Young people have enough problems but basic necessities need to be prioritised to ensure our health is safeguarded. Both urban and rural young people have the same needs let us not only think of the other as inferior but equity is needed for full programming efforts in this Covid-19 pandemic. Local clinics are not functioning to full capacity how can young people access sexual and reproductive products for their health?

I appeal to Zimbabweans at large to look not only to the elderly but the young people as well, as they also have huge challenges during this pandemic. And to the youths we are in this together let’s fight this pandemic by becoming industrious and show the nation that we are truly leaders of tomorrow with our skills.

 

Written by Tatenda Rukarwa

Covid-19 a curse or a blessing to young people in Zimbabwe

When I look at the young people today during this Covid-19 pandemic all I see is tears from within, uncertainty of their future and mostly fear of the unknown. Many questions linger in their minds, is this purpose we are living for to suffer at the mercy of a pandemic? The alarming rate of infection and death rates has made young people sceptical and conclude that surely their future is bleak.

When a total lockdown was officialised in Zimbabwe, schools had closed earlier deterring young people from fully utilising educational facilities both in urban and rural schools. The young people in Universities had to go back home within a week of opening school, they have been deprived of a right to education. Although some resort to online learning, a good initiative, I look back at my rural friends-where will they access internet from? Even urbanites are finding it hard to cope with these ICT trends. The young people are suffering because their sources of income have been closed. Covid-19 is now like a generational curse which is haunting most people whether rich or poor , we all need to be active in safeguarding the young people as the future generation have a legacy from which they can pick from but corona has other thoughts in mind.

Young people are losing loved ones and bread winners to this pandemic. Apparently, gender based violence increases because of the lack of resources in households.  There have been a rise in child-headed families, many are vulnerable and are easy prey for scavengers who want to utilise this opportunity to destroy the future of our young people by abusing them in exchange for money and sex. Our morals as young people are being tested, but due to desperation we are losing it bit by bit so that we can fend for our families.

Young people have lost their employment due to most companies shutting down during this pandemic. Some of their small start-ups have been demolished by the city councils to enable a safer environment for the citizens of Zimbabwe. All these contribute to the economic hardships to the young people. Their hard earned resources getting destroyed and counting these losses leads to high rates of mental health scares. Substance abuse increases in the name of relieving stresses caused by Covid-19, our generation is dying because we are not able to adapt to changes in lifestyle as the world is quickly changing in the face of the pandemic.

Young people are succumbing to hunger fears than Covid-19 pandemic. Malnutrition shall rise as our parents do not have means of finding work to sustain their households. Food relief is being availed to the disadvantaged communities but is it reaching the intended targets? Will it be sustainable for the families? All these questions are in the young people’s minds but who can answer them. Non-governmental organisations have brought programs such as food for work initiatives to boost household nutrition levels but lockdown has led to the closure of such programs to ensure the pandemic does not spread in the country.

Water and sanitation issues are also a major contributor to young girls and boys succumbing to long hours waiting at borehole queues just to get water for household use. They spend almost the whole day in line, these places become hubs for substance abuse, sexual abuse as girls resort to offering their bodies for the so called borehole mafia’s can give them water or make them jump the line. It is a sad situation but what can we do as young people as running water is scarce. Although the government issued a statement that water should be availed in all councils responsible all over the country but it is a different scenario for my hometown in Chitungwiza. You can get it once in two weeks and it will be dirty with green like substances floating, it is not hygienic but you have no choice than to fill up the water for consumption. It is a saddening situation, there is no social distancing at these places and one is highly susceptible to the pandemic.

 

Another major concern is the issue of affordability and accessibility of sanitary wear for young women and girls in this pandemic. Water is critical for their menstrual hygiene management. The costs of sanitary wear has risen and looking at the economy how many can afford to buy and the lockdown has led to many streams of income being shut down. How will our young women and girls bleed without fear? It is at this juncture that we should ensure that no girl or young woman is left behind during this pandemic. They are the mothers of tomorrow therefore they need to be safeguarded as jewels of the society. We have many organisations running to rural areas with supplies but have we checked if sanitary wear is availed to the vulnerable in society during this time. Now there is need for a low cost sanitary wear like reusable cloth pads which last longer to curb the need for girls and young women to have stress on how their next menstrual cycle shall be. Young people have enough problems but basic necessities need to be prioritised to ensure our health is safeguarded. Both urban and rural young people have the same needs let us not only think of the other as inferior but equity is needed for full programming efforts in this Covid-19 pandemic. Local clinics are not functioning to full capacity how can young people access sexual and reproductive products for their health?

I appeal to Zimbabweans at large to look not only to the elderly but the young people as well, as they also have huge challenges during this pandemic. And to the youths we are in this together let’s fight this pandemic by becoming industrious and show the nation that we are truly leaders of tomorrow with our skills.

 

Written by Tatenda Rukarwa

This story was submitted in response to Dispatches from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Comments 11

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Chi8629
May 05
May 05

Hello Beautiful ,
How are you doing?
Welcome back .
Thank you so much for sharing .We value you .

Jill Langhus
May 06
May 06

Hello Tatty,

How are you and your family doing, dear? Thanks so much for sharing your update on how COVID is affecting your country. Too sad:-(

XX

Anita Shrestha
May 07
May 07

Thank you for sharing.

Hello, Tatenda,

How are you? Thank you for raising your voice on COVID challenges. Women and girls suffer more during these times. Please stay safe.

Thelma obani 2020
May 10
May 10

Sooo sad. Sorry to hear what's happening in Zimbabwe.. please stay safe and be positive about everything. ❤❤❤

Kika Katchunga
May 18
May 18

Hello Tatty

Thank you for sharing ; it’s very inspiring; you have my full support

Sinyuy Geraldine
May 18
May 18

Hello Tantenda. Thank you for this story on how the lives of young people are affected by the covid 19 pandemic. Yes, we need to think about periods and young girls for truely, periods know no lockdown. I hooe your government can look into the issues you have raised here.

Kabahenda
May 20
May 20

Hello Tatenda,
Thank you for informing us about what is going on in your country.

I really admire your resolve: "let’s fight this pandemic by becoming industrious and show the nation that we are truly leaders of tomorrow with our skills."

Way to go my dear sister. All the best to you.

KieraCR
May 20
May 20

It breaks my heart how depending on your geographical location, things can be so much harder for individuals to live a healthy, sanitary, happy lifestyle. I am actually a sophomore majoring in Public health and we often discuss how important it is to create help create and maintain a healthier lifestyle in underdeveloped communities. I know that there is no change that can happen overnight but as I mentioned earlier hearing how different someone my age is negatively dealing with this pandemic is discerning and heartbreaking. I am looking forward to hopefully working in these communities once I graduate and actually contribute to ensuring healthier lifestyles and better resources, I hope that I will be able to make a huge impact.

I appreciate you sharing this and raising awareness. Stay safe and keep writing beautiful!

Beth Lacey
May 21
May 21

Yes, we are in this together, but it's a monumental fight. Stay strong

JULITON
May 31
May 31

Your valued much, thanks for sharing,