I can confidently say, after two years of living here, that Vic Falls is missing an awful lot of things.
There is no decent playground for kids. There are no public spaces where you can hang out for free. There is no well-resourced, slick, modern hospital. There is no chain store selling all the standard baby and kid goodies (like cloth nappies, toys, bottles… the list goes on…and on…and on).
Sometimes, there isn’t even power or water.
But Vic Falls has something which makes all of that seem irrelevant, and the COVID crisis has brought it into very sharp focus.
By now town has been almost dead for almost six months. Most lodges and tourism business are still closed. Some companies have just reached the point of complete layoffs. Others are retrenching another round. A few are barely clinging on to all their staff, although with drastic pay cuts.
Given that Zimbabwe already struggles with terrible unemployment and a non-functioning welfare system, one job often provides for an entire extended family.
The situation, for many of these families, is now desperate.
But the locals haven’t sat back and waited for someone to solve the problem. Teams of volunteers, led by Foundations or Trusts, have been working away to stockpile food for such a time as this.
International donors have played a big part in providing funds for this food.
One of the more incredible initiatives has seen 160 volunteers across seven sites feed over 150,000 meals in the past 37 days to our vulnerable children.
(You can catch a glimpse of the work in the video below, where the kids, and the volunteers, take on the Jerusalema Dance challenge, and NAIL IT if I may say so).
There is, of course, still a LONG way to go, since none of us know when we’ll be able to welcome tourists again. Bear in mind, too, that many of the volunteers involved are dealing with job losses, business closures and very uncertain futures themselves.
It all shows something that I’ve come to love about this little town, lacking in so many things: A truly amazing, sacrificial, sense of community.
At the end of the day, I think Vic Falls has what matters most.
Please do consider donating at the below link to help out with the Jafuta Foundation feeding programmes. For roughly the price of a cup of coffee, these guys can provide 12 meals.