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The difference between Poverty and being Poor: A Zimbabwean story

So in 2019 my family and I travelled to Zimbabwe for our usual Zim family visit. Did the usual vaccination update, malaria tablet and we were off 💃🏾💃🏾.. Arrived there and as always kids had a fantastic time meeting cousins. My youngest had his 2nd birthday there it was great…

Complications would set in a couple of days before we were due to return to the UK. My middle child who was 10 at the time was having a bit of a fever which we thought nothing off until he started needing the toilet after every 5 minutes.

His health was deteriorating with something that seemed to be in his tummy. We took him to Trauma Centre and Lo and behold he had to be tested for cholera and typhoid or ecoli..  Some of the tests had to be sent to specialist labs in SA so we wouldn’t get the results back for sometime.

Thankfully the doctor decided to start treatment. After going through the hassle of changing flight dates and all the additional costs we struck into panic mode. If it was cholera what would that mean for him and for all of us?

By the next day the message on the radio was clear the country was going through a Cholera and typhoid outbreak.

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As a mum I tried to retrace our steps I had been so careful especially wen it came to water and the kids all knew about this. We had borehole water or treated water from the shops but how was this happening. After a few days in hospital thankfully he was given the all clear to travel although our results were not all back yet we set off to come back home to the UK.

Little did I know that he would carry on suffering from this thing on and off for nearly a year. It was only after a long hospital stay in November 2020 that he would eventually get some proper treatment to completely clear his bowl.. only then did he start to fully recover having lost much of the first term of his first year in high school and a lot of weights.. But he is all good now and thriving …

Needless to say the whole experience made us question the desire to take our kids to Zimbabwe every year as much as we all love it there was it a costly decision in some way … 😏

This wasn’t the only thing that occurred to me .. Back to the water situation I started to look more into this how did we become exposed to a waterborne disease after being so careful.. ?

The answer (which I will share) led me to one conclusion there is a stark difference between being poor and poverty … you see someone being poor it’s confined to the status holder, but poverty is a more far reaching beast. It’s not a respector of wealth status, or any other societal badge clever, diaspora etc .. Poverty will find you regardless …

In Zimbabwe the water shortage coupled with low income and high inflation has resulted in borehole drilling as a tactical response. While this short term measure is great for some it unfortunately means we are polluting our water table with every next borehole drilled or even every urban irrigation scheme.

Countries like Nigeria and India who have long been doing this report of water pollutants from underground toxification as pollutants are not removed from boreholes or from overground pollutants fertilisers etc.

This is because the water table is disrupted and is no longer as deep or even as much water or proximity to septic tanks etc which are also done informally.

If you research say India which in the regions that went through green revolution in the 1960s the interruption to the water table would cause cancers in mid to earth adulthood as well as birth defects for decades later long after the interruptions in the 1960s…

Because really we need to change the system back to city water systems rather than boreholes so that water is cleared of toxic pollutants but this must happen urgently .. I am sure that as I write this you the reader know someone, a Zimbabwean below the age of 50 who has suffered from cancer. This is a misdemeanour it shouldn’t be this way!!

Why am I sharing this story with you …

Presently the incumbent government is not making genuine efforts to address the water situation.

We have projects such as Tokwe-Mukosi Dam that have been in situ since the early 2000s. In spite of money being pumped in still not much is achieved. We as tax payers are pumping in millions directly or by borrowing which pay the interest and repayment but there is little output to show.

What can you do?

Guys that Zimbabwe is desperate for a change is no longer a question that needs answering. What is only required is that we play our part. Text and Phone your friends and family ask them if they have registered to vote.

If they have get them to dial *265# to check they are on the voters roll. Find others I am finding especially ama 2k not all are registered they are the biggest number….

Maybe you are doing okay but remember the effects of poverty reach deep and wide … The first step to end this is to get as many as possible to #REGISTERTOVOTE … The young ones and those to follow especially require this from us !!!!