By Jeoffrey and Nkosilathi Ncube.
Depression ,anxiety, psychological and emotional trauma is what she is subjected to each and everyday of her life.
The implementation of the on going 21days Lockdown to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus has no doubt doubled her burden.
This is the story of 36 year old Modest Musvitswa, a mother of three sons with disabilities who lives in Epworth.
Alone with her children, cut off from support, the lockdown is very tough for Musvitswa.
Her sons have cerebral palsy. Her first born Leeroy, was unable to sit or crawl as a baby and is now aged 12. He still cant walk.
This is the same condition with the 6 year old Saymore and Matipaishe the last born who is 3 months old.
In Zimbabwean communities, giving birth to a child with disability can be grounds for divorce, abandonment, accusations and rejection.
Mothers of children with disabilities are often left to deal with the challenges and cost of raising their children alone and this is Musvitswa’s predicament.
Lockdown is tough for every parent, no matter your family situation or health status but for the mother of three ,things were never been easy even before the lockdown.
“My husband shunned our sons, never tried to provide for them and even refused to be involved when it comes to acquiring birth certificates for them .
Since then l had to shoulder all the burdens by myself, ” she says.
“To cater for their needs l used to do piece jobs in Zimre Park but with the care giving responsibilities taking all my time l am now failing to balance between the two.
“Getting birth certificates for my children and taking them to school is always my dream ,they do not know what medication is and how therapist sessions feel like because l can not afford any of those , and in terms of food ,we only survive on begging and l even scavage in the bins so that my children have something to eat (crying),” she said.
Many of the Zimbabweans who are disabled are finding it hard as the country goes through the lockdown.
If the levels of anxiety are high in the general population, they are even higher among disabled people who are more at risk in a number of ways.It’s also a deeply anxious time for families with disabled children like Musvitswa.
Disabled and older people should be able to get assistance from social welfare and neighbours in their communities.
But with the economy in a tailspin , they are let to forage for what they can get on their own.
But it’s up to everyone to be neighbourly and make sure the old and less privileged are catered for.
A simple gesture like a phone call, or chat over the fence at a two metre social distance may help uplift spirits. After all, we’re all in this together and we all need to support each other.
“Musvitswa’s children need special care and she does not have anyone to leave them with if she is to look for a job ,as a result she spends all day nursing them .
“As the community members food is the only thing that we afford to help her with when ever she is in need” says Mr Kudada a community activist.
The mental health of people in the disability community is of concern. They are experiencing high levels of anxiety, stress and depression because of all the extra difficulties they are encountering.
“Although l have a husband ,l always crave for his love and affection which l never got to taste ever since l gave birth to my first son,but rather tears is the sweetest thing l always embrace in his presence.
He never sets his hands on me but his words hurt more than a wound itself and the house is so peacefull when he is not around,” she says.
According to WOMEN’S Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), the Covid-19 lockdown period has seen a surge in Gender Based Violence (GBV) recording over 700 cases.
The gender group called upon the government to step up efforts in reducing domestic violence during the lockdown.
“We call upon government to step up its support to address the domestic violence during the lockdown with stronger measures driven by state to stop the violence.
“We emphasise that GBV responsiveness is critical within the Covid-19 pandemic,” WCoZ said.
For Musvitswa, she always thinks of a divorce because of GBV but she doesn’t have anywhere to seek for refugee.
“Being called waste of space and all taunting names is normal when ever he is around .
“My relationship with him is estranged and challenging because he no longer sees my worth and he had to shut himself off from caring just because l gave birth to children who are not ‘normal’ enough for him,”she lamented with tears streaming down her cheeks
“I always think of a divorce but l do not have anywhere to seek for refugee ,my parents are dead and I’m only left with 6 sisters but the sad part is we all have the same condition. They are all poor and have children with disabilities as well ,hence if l’m to go there with my children l will be burden.
“I always feel guilty over the limits of my ability to protect my young sister from the brutality and aggression of her so-called husband .
“l am just a single mother of three children with celebral palsy and l have been dumped by my husband because of the condition of my children.”said Nolin Musvitswa ,Modest’s sister.
When ever her husband is around he never run out of brutal words to depress and traumatize her in the presence of her children. It’s been 16 days under lockdown now and she is stuck together in permanent confinement with this abusive husband of her and obviously the torture has intensified.
Meanwhile, one-million households identified through the Social Welfare Department to benefit from the $600 million kitty availed by the Government to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 are set to start receiving their cash transfers today.
This comes as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has risen to 18 after 53 samples were tested yesterday and one was found positive.