By Staff Reporter
THE sun mercilessly baked the earth.
The skies were cloudless and for miles around, all one could see was parched, barren earth studded by sporadic, low bush resignedly shedding off leaves.
Also garnishing the near barren panorama was shrivelled grass, now convenient fodder for termites in this dry and far-flung outback known as Kagona village in Nyanga, Manicaland province.
As the vehicles screech to a halt at a rustic homestead, the occupants are suddenly confronted with a heart-rending sight as a family of eight, emerge from two little grass-thatched huts which look like they can be blown away even in the gentlest windstorm.
The huts themselves are only, but tiny structures enough only for the most desperate. What remains of the old unrepaired thatch is not enough to shelter only the most desperate.
Here lives the Kembo family all afflicted by a rare skin disease that has affected their feet.
Unable to walk and work, theirs is a life lived on the very margins, forever relying on handouts.
After braving the sunbaked earth, they congregated under the shed of a huge indigenous tree on the outskirts of their homestead before harmoniously soulfully breaking into a rendition of an ancient Christian hymn: “Kupa kunemufaro kunokunda kugamuchira (Blessed is the hand that giveth, than the hand that receiveth),” as they received groceries donated by Impala Car Rental.
The family comprises of a mother, Ronica Kembo (52), her two daughters, Chisina and Nhamo in their late 20s, and their five children – all afflicted by the same disease.
“We have been surviving on wild tubers and fruits all along,” Ronica remarks as the family proudly takes possession of the groceries.
“The situation here was bad and to be honest with you, I was only waiting for God’s intervention because I had exhausted all the channels but nothing came out of it. God is there and I want to thank Impala Car Rental for their benevolence,” the matriarch said.
Like her daughters and grandchildren, she has barely ever walked straight in her life as the disability caught up with them at the uniform age of three.
Kembo’s only male child who survived the rare condition went to neighbouring Mozambique over a decade ago and never returned.
“We have been surviving on wild fruits of late because no one especially from this community was willing to help because of this Covid-19 pandemic. People had stocked enough for their families and life was becoming unbearable for us. To be honest with you I have been praying to God and I am happy that my prayers have been answered,” she said.
Apart from hunger, the Kembo homestead is prone to natural disasters as the dwellings are old and dilapidated.
“As you can see our houses are dilapidated and we have nothing to do. During the rainy season, we use plastics to cover up. Mr. Killer Zivhu has brought us building material and the house is yet to be finished we don’t why?” she narrated.
Impala Car Rental brand and projects manager Tracy Ngoma said through their Alfred Dondo Foundation, they found it worthwhile to assist the family.
“Touched by their plight we thought it was necessary for us to bring some food to them. The situation here needs people to come together and assist the family. Through the foundation we will continue working with the family in assisting them with their needs,” Ngoma said.
Ngoma said they will also engage the people who started building the house and see how best they can assist to have the house finished.
“We will see how best we can engage those who started building the house. We can as well try to give our hand so that the family can get decent accommodation,” she said.
Kembo says the family has failed to get medical attention for the rare skin condition known as keratoderma, a marked thickening of the skin.