The Sunday News
Siphilisiwe Zondo-Mloyi in United Kingdom
United Kingdom is among the worst-affected areas by the Covid-19 pandemic. Last week, 32 065 people diagnosed with the virus had died in the UK. This is a difficult time in the whole world and Zimbabweans based in the UK are no exception. In the past few weeks a dark cloud has been hovering above the Zimbabwean community in the UK, with about 29 Zimbabweans in the UK reported to have succumbed to the pandemic. The majority of the deceased were professionals employed in the health sector and were part of the frontline workers battling the world’s deadliest disease in recent memory.
What started as the Israelites biblical journey to the promised land of milk and honey has turned to a nightmare as the fiery serpent (this time not along the way) but in the heart of the Promised Land, is not only biting but also feasting on the human race.
I have lost two relatives, who died within two days from the pandemic in recent weeks. It was so tragic. I felt helpless as I could not go to pass my condolences or pay my last respects. I also recall an instance where a woman was stuck with a dead body in the house for hours. No one could go and sympathise with her due to the situation until the body was taken to the morgue.
Such is the story of Zimbabweans in the UK. The elderly and most family members live in Zimbabwe, making it difficult to navigate such situations with no wisdom or moral family support in the event of losing a loved one while in the UK.
Some even struggle with funds to repatriate bodies of relatives and friends because of the situation at hand. They resort to GoFundMe, an online fundraiser platform.
Sadly scores of people suffer silently. Some stay on their own, some are too sick to go and buy medication or make something to eat. No one knows what they are going through. Some are even scared to tell their friends and relatives of what they are going through.
Some are pregnant women with partners on quarantine.
Such is the dire situation that some Zimbabweans based in the UK find themselves in. Far away from home, and suffering emotionally and physically during this period of lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus.
Qoki Zindlovukazi, a UK-based women’s group has set up a support plan to drop groceries on the doorsteps of those who need help within the Zimbabwean community. Diasporans are the milk-cows for their families back home.
Most people left children, spouses and parents back home, sadly, they cannot fend for them anymore. Due to the coronavirus pandemic some people lost their jobs and some don’t have residence permits, which makes their situation a lot worse, some are self-employed with no income during this time, yet it is not a good time even for those in formal business. The situation also changed for those who are formally employed as some employers slashed salaries by up to 20 percent during the lockdown period.
Lockdown is the world’s biggest psychological experience. Unlike back home where one can chat to a neighbour over the durawall, the system here is different.
Others are in small accommodation without a garden, they are just stuck in their flats drowning their sorrows on Netflix or Zoom social media platforms. Even for those who used to socialise in churches where they found fellow Zimbabweans, sadly it’s all gone. No shopping, spas or holidays.
With not so good records of domestic violence within the Zimbabwean community, the lockdown has in a way led to a rise in domestic abuse, child abuse and alcohol abuse as the abuser and the victim spend most of the time together.
People across the world are depressed because of inactivity. At the same time they are concerned they might contract Covid-19 and even pass it on to their loved ones. It leaves them not wanting to go out and feeling very panicky.
Most people go to online platforms every few minutes to check how many people have died across the globe. Ronan Keating’s lyrics, If Tomorrow Never Comes echo in everyone’s ears as the future is so uncertain.