Just days into the COVID-19 lockdown, Samantha Murozoki discovered that a neighbour and her family were going hungry.
With markets shut down, they, like many others who live off trading, had no income to feed themselves.
Samantha, a 35-year-old immigration lawyer, decided to help. She started making meals for a few of her neighbours.
She didnt know it then, but she had just started an oasis that was to feed thousands of people in Chitungwiza’s Seke Unit A.
As word spread, queues started forming outside her home, where she made porridge for children for breakfast and gave out food packs for families for dinner.
The numbers grew. With a few pots and pans and an old stove, she and a group of volunteers fed more and more people. They kept a record to ensure nobody cheated the scheme.
She had to sell her personal belongings to keep people fed.
“It took me less than two weeks to get to 867 people coming to eat… so I started to barter jeans, sneakers, jackets. Anything I wasn’t using at the time to trade for maize, cooking oil, salt, labor, so we could get the ball rolling,” Murozoki said.
Soon, Samatha and her colleagues attracted support from ordinary people and companies, who supported the scheme with donations. But the scheme also attracted the attention of the local council, which temporarily shut down the soup kitchen over health regulations.
However, these were soon resolved and a formal trust, Kuchengetana Trust, was soon set up.
Since those early days of the lockdown, the mother of two has ensured that thousands of people don’t go to bed hungry.
On Christmas Day, day 253 of the scheme, Kuchengetana delivered 1230 plates of porridge, and 2500 plates for dinner.
COVID-19 brought anxiety and economic despair. It deepened political tensions and widened our polarisation. But Samatha Murozoki and her band of selfless volunteers defied all that.
They are a symbol of the same spirit of sacrifice and compassion that we saw in many Zimbabweans; from frontline health workers who kept working in the face of neglect, to the many faceless patriots who stepped in to support Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 response.
The Chitungwiza feeding scheme challenged a country where greed and selfishness now rule over compassion and generosity.
For giving us hope, one plate at a time, and for reminding us what being a patriotic Zimbabwen means, Samantha is our newZWire Person of The Year.