Zambezi Kiwi

Living in Zimbabwe

Covid Vaccines the African way

August 31, 2021

I’m not an early adopter by any means.

Whatever the new invention may be, I’m always happy for others to be the guinea pig: once it’s proven, I’m in.

So I didn’t bat an eyelid when Zimbabwe started it’s vaccine roll out in February. I couldn’t be bothered when 70 per cent of our town got vaccinated in March. I sat quite happily amidst the hysteria about Delta wave and let time pass…until I’d finally finished breastfeeding.

Then it started happening. We were told restaurants could reopen for the vaccinated. Churches could proceed with services if parishioners produced a double vax card. The list grew and I grew tired of resisting so I thought I’d better line up.

Here, we have the choice of Sinovac and Sinopharm, two Chinese vaccinations, approved by the WHO, which probably won’t be accepted when I attempt to return to NZ, but at least I tried. Both use the traditional throw-some-dead-bugs-in-your-body type vaccination but Sinopharm was here first and has the longest track record in Zim, so I decided to go with it.

“Tried and true,” I whispered to myself as I made the decision.

Having girded my loins at long last, I selected this week as jab time, and asked a friend for advice on her experience at the police station clinic.

Her message read, and I quote, “Queue was ok. Go early, take a stool, a book and some patience.

“Wear a sleeveless top under jersey or whatever. If they can’t get to your shoulder you have to go inside.

“It’s nice there cause you queue under these magnificent trees.”

I LOVE magnificent trees, so off to the police station it was.

Having awoken early thanks to children, I rushed through a shower without washing my greasy hair, threw on a t-shirt with a cardi over the top to keep out the morning chill, grabbed a fold up chair, cup of tea, and my kindle, and was seated outside the clinic at 7:30am.

I was the second person there. My shamwari (friend) on the left in the photo was a talkative fellow who agreed to be in a photo with me. We chatted at length about my kindle and how it worked, which meant I didn’t get much reading in. By 8:15am the clinic nurses had prepared for the rush of the day at our wee clinic:

The dirt was hosed down, two old desks set out, chairs with no back put in place, a rubbish bag hung for used needles, and a bucket of sanitizer was put out that I never saw a soul use.

At 8:30am on the dot, a queue spontaneously appeared, emerging as one solid line of humans where before only dirt and trees existed. I thought smugly how I could shove my way to the front the moment jabs started because I had been here first after all.

Then the head nurse called some thing out in Ndebele. I heard “second jab,” the queue quantum leaped into the car park by the desks, and I was left asking what she had said.

“We don’t have the first vaccine. She has gone to get it,” said the head nurse.

“You can wait over there. She will be back soon.”

At 9:00am I asked if the vaccines were being brought from Bulawayo, a town five hours away. In my experience of Africa, the timeframes fit well within the definition of “soon”. The head nurse laughed kindly and repeated her answer.

“Don’t worry, you will be first.”

At 9:30am ‘she’ returned in a car, from the hospital ten minutes away, where she had been picking up first jabs.

By now the smug 7:30am smile had been thoroughly wiped off my face, and I had spent a significant amount of time gazing up at the magnificent trees wondering how I would describe them in a book.

My shamwari, also getting his first vaccine, had noticed my interest in trees and was attempting small talk about indigenous species while I searched in vain for tenants of my patience. I had not brought enough.

Finally, the moment came, and head nurse laughingly called me over, at which point I had to confess my shamwari had actually been first in the carpark and thus ought to be first now.

I lined up behind him.

“I.D.” Said the nurse.

I felt the blood drain from my face. Claire never mentioned I.D. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it. The cardinal rules of the African queue are Chrystal clear:

1. Always take water, food, a seat and a book.

2. Always take way more paperwork than you think will be necessary. Gurus take every bit of paperwork they have, in triplicate.

Through hands growing sweaty from panic, I messaged my husband, called him, searched my phone, and finally found a picture of my passport.

“Next,” called head nurse.

I acted nonchalent, I had no proof of residency so my best bet was a convincing act of “oh it doesn’t really matter”.

“I.D.” she said.

I showed her the picture. She paused. The pause stretched out. The pause stretched my nerves out.

“Do you have proof of residence?”

“Ahh, no, but I’ve lived here three years.”

She paused again, then, very slowly, she put her pen to the paper and began to write out my details.

I breathed out, and silently admired her empathetic nature. “WHAT a good person,” I thought to myself.

“Can I have Sinopharm, please,” I said.

“Ah no, we only have Sinovac today.”

I stared at her, thinking of my two-and-a-half-hour queue, and my vanished patience, then slumped my shoulders.

“Sinovac sounds great.”

I need a dollar, a dollar is what I need

July 26, 2021

“I’ll have two Pepsi’s of thinner, one of colour coat, five six-inch nails and I need some varnish as well,” I say to the woman behind the counter. Then I add “Imari?”

I’m standing in what feels like a den of broken parts, lost property, and likely some iniquity as well.

But it’s just Philip’s hardware store in Chinotimba, the industrial side of town.

Three years ago the very thought of attempting to find my way around, let alone buy something, would have made me feel like throwing up. The strange languages swirling around me felt like a threat: not to my safety, just to my comfortable, controlled first-world life. I had no idea when I was being taken for a ride, or given an honest price. I couldn’t figure out what people were saying, or get them to understand me.

The ebb and flow of life here was a baffling, intimidating, utterly foreign tune that I couldn’t make any sense of.

I suddenly realise how far I’ve come as I look around the cramped little “store,” a place most Kiwi’s would think was a health hazard. It’s the third one I’ve visited today, the ladies know me, and even agree to let me take a picture as the colour coat I need is poured out of its rightful home, into empty plastic Pepsi bottles, a standard 75ml that is more affordable to the local tradesmen than entire litres of the stuff.

The lady behind the counter answers my “Imari?” with the price; US$23.

“Agh, sista,” I pull a face. “But why? Where now am I going to find three dollars?”

I don’t know when I started talking like this in the markets, but I have discovered it is quite necessary. Africans struggle to understand my kiwi accent at the best of times, let alone in a crowded hardware store amongst other negotiators. To be fair I often have to ask for several repeats of a sentence too as I try to understand the product explanations being offered to me.

The lady laughs. She understands my complaint. Zimbabwe’s current shortage (we always have one going) is small currency USD. Shopping now revolves around getting the right combination of items to cover what you need and come as close to a five or ten as possible.

We drop the nails and discover the price is a straight $20…but I need the nails. So after pouring thinners into and out of various plastic drink bottles, we hit $25, and I go home satisfied, ready to get Wills, our local handyman, to do a few more jobs.

After that it’s off to the couch-maker, in the market by the Beer Hall. I love this market. It’s always pumping, full of trash waiting to be turned into treasure, and there is a fresh veggie section nearby so I can kill two birds with one stone.

Elvis is my man for refurbishments, and he works out of yet another over-crowded, half-buried in piles of treasure-trash, low-slung tiny room in the midst of the bustling market. Some of his sewing is still done on an old Singer, when the power cuts. Otherwise, with radio blaring, it’s off to work on his electric machine.

Somehow, no matter how dirty the shack-store looks, the couches arrive immaculate.

When I get home it’s time to tell the wood restorer working on our chairs what I want done. Not only do you buy products for tradies here, you instruct them in exactly how you want them used. I’ve run into trouble with this for three reasons:

1. I don’t actually know what I’m doing, but as ‘the madam’ I have to pretend. Bosses are expected to give instructions clearly, decisively and strongly. Otherwise nothing happens. Suffice to say I know more about electrics, wood products and cement than I ever dreamed or desired.

2. I’m a woman. No matter how rabidly feminist I get about not being listened to, Will eventually has to ‘clarify’ on the odd occasion.

3. My accent. Rather too often, thanks to my hubby’s local networks and Shona- speaking skills, I end up with a tradesman standing outside my house smiling beautifully, saying ‘yes’ and clearly having no idea what I just said because he doesn’t speak English. At all. If he does, my soothing Kiwi tones wash over him in a manner entirely useless to either of us. So then Will has to come “clarify” again.

Thankfully, Duncan, my wood man, has beautiful English and we work well together despite my unfortunately being a woman. By now, he knows how I like my wood done, so we’re over the hump of re-doing jobs three times to get it right.

“Madam,” he says in acknowledgment as I approach with his products. “A man has to eat. A man for a job, a job for food.”

This is something else I’ve come to enjoy about life in Africa. Every business transaction is a play, acted out by participants who both know what the other wants, but need to prove they are the most hard-done-by to get the best price. There is no such thing as asking straight for your pay. That would be both unmentionable rude, and extremely dull. The drama can be downright fun.

“Duncan, how much for you to eat? I ask, even though we both know I’m asking how much I owe.

“Madam, $53.”

I look at him, “agh, Madala (respectful term for an old man), where now am I going to find three dollars?”

Duncan laughs, and the negotiation is underway.

Hide your kids, hide your dogs (literally)

April 6, 2021

Vic Falls is a town set in the wild, we all know that, but I have to say things have escalated a little lately.

Usually it’s just elephants demolishing trees outside our wall, and hyenas calling in the night.

But recently we had a leopard coming into town for TFC (tame, fresh chicken). It started on the road just around the corner from us.

In fact, some pictures were sent around on WhatsApp (I’m not sure who took them, so photo credit goes to An Awesome Vic Falls Resident).

Next minute, a dog went missing- this time a little closer.

Soon, coffee conversation among friends turned to concern over the safety of their own dogs, and where to lock them up at night.

I thought this was brilliant. After all, water cooler conversations never got this exciting in New Zealand.

But then one night we heard our own dogs going crazy. Despite Will’s efforts to shut them up. They persisted, and we spent a relatively sleepless night cursing our dogs and wondering whether they, or newborns, were worse.

The next day, when Will got home, he looked at me – guilt written all over his face.

‘The leopard was out again last night. It walked right past us.’

That night our dogs, mongrel breeds though they be, slept inside too.

And it’s not just the leopard roaming outside our wall. About a month ago we were farewelling some guests, standing in the garden, when we heard a faint bellowing.

“Lion!” I whisper-yelled.

We all went silent. Stars cut through the clear night above us. Moonlight landed softly on our lush, green garden. The most beautiful evening breeze washed over our warm skin, and we held our breath to listen to mighty roar-bellow of the most famous beast in Africa.

And every night, for about a month, we were serenaded by that wonderful creature- sometimes in the evening, sometimes in the middle of the night, sometimes upon waking in the morning.

Without fail, we stopped to listen.

The lion came as close as the edge of town, about a kilometer from us, and the lucky ones got to see them (from the safety of their cars).

We didn’t, but even the soundtrack was enough for me.

Then, a couple of days ago we got a message from a friend. About 300m from their house they had found the reason for all the fuss from the lions:

“Wow,” I thought to myself. “Life honestly doesn’t get cooler than living amidst all this.

I paused.

“Unless you’re the Zebra or the Buffalo I suppose.”

Local secrets: The golf course

March 27, 2021

When I first arrived in Vic Falls, one of the locals told me a story about a lady who took her dogs out walking on the Elephant Hills Golf Course one morning.

Apparently, they had all come across a leopard.

It was quite a different story about going for a walk than what a person would ever tell in New Zealand. There, a dog would bark at other dogs or chase a bird.

Here they come across leopards, or birds chase dogs, but more on that soon.

It took me a while to actually want to head to the golf course after hearing the leopard story. In the end I caved because it seemed a slightly safer option than the bush.

So far I have no regrets, but I have had some awesome experiences.

Every walk involves the slightly surreal game of spot-the-wild-animal-on-the-fairway. It might be a noble waterbuck to which you tip your head, or elegant impala easing away from you, or monkeys scrambling up trees, or a family of warthog around which you warily move.

On my first bike ride alone I nearly ran into a herd of impala browsing across one of the walkways. After about 20 mins of wondering whether they were more scared of me, or I was more scared of them (they had a distinct numbers advantage, in my defense…), I SLOWLY edged forward through a parting curtain of living creatures. It was surreal, and a touch divine.

But the event that firmly cemented the golf course as one of my favourite local hang outs happened just after we got back from Nee Zealand last year.

Some friends invited us to go for a walk on the golf course. I figured a bit of fresh air would be great for the jet lag, so off we went.

All was going remarkably uneventfully, given the number of kids involved, when we noticed a large bird above us in the sky. We all stopped to admire as you do here (for good reason), then carried on walking.

Soon the bird swooped by again, and was identified as a Yellow-billed kite.

We walked on, only to realized the bird was still above us, and much lower than before.

“Is it eyeing up Bella?” asked my friend.

As the innocent miniature daschund ran merrily around us, her owner answered in the affirmative.

Bella, the would-be entree.

“Babe, keep an eye on Zoe,” friend added.

I looked in surprise at the toddler who apparently might also be a target.

The bird circled lower. We walked on, keeping a wary eye on Bella. Then it happened.

Our group had split slightly with the men in the lead helping kids on bikes, while the ladies lagged behind with babies. Bella made the mistake of hovering in no man’s land; the Kite was ready and waiting.

Just as it began to swoop for Bella, one of the guys spotted it and ran towards the dog yelling and waving his arms.

The Kite pulled up out of its dive about two meters from the happy little target…and Bella was put back on her leash without delay, thus living to walk another day.

When we got back home from the Golf Course, Will asked me how it had gone.

I told him that a dog nearly got eaten by a bird.

“It was kinda awesome to watch a Kite in action,” I confessed, feeling guilty as I thought of my friend.

Then the secret behind walks on the golf course hit me.

“It was a little bit like being in a David Attenborough documentary. But this is just our lives.”

The elephant at the cinema

October 18, 2020

It was meant to be a surprise night out at a cinema under the stars.

Me and a friend had come up with the scheme when we decided it was high time to watch the Downton Abbey movie.

Since there is no cinema in town, we borrowed a projector, hooked up some speakers, and got the movie.

It was also another friend’s birthday, we decided to splash out with some nibbles, decor (fairy lights anyone? 😍), and bubbles.

By the time we had finished, our little home-made cinema was quite impressive, if I do say so myself.

The nibbles were laid out on heritage Blue Willow China, the bubbles were chilling in a silver ice bucket, the projector was set up and the white wall that would feature as our screen was edged with red curtains.

Fairy lights dangled above us and laterns, candles and sofas set the scene for a rather spectacular cinematic experience.

Birthday friend arrived, and was suitably delighted, so the movie experience began.

But, alas, about halfway through the movie my littlest love starting crying for a feed. So off I went to sort that out, while the others carried on watching.

When I got back outside, our little cinema was empty. Only Simba, our dog, was there, licking the last of the deviled eggs off the Blue Willow platters.

I looked around, baffled, when I heard voices drifting back from across the garden.

Friends meandered slowly over, as if nothing were amiss, but the movie definitely seemed quite forgotten.

Thanks to my ever-present weak character, I confess to feeling slightly annoyed that the deviled eggs had been abandoned to Simba, and asked what was up.

“There’s an elephant just over your wall,” came the reply.

As if on cue I heard the now-familiar sound of branches cracking and foliage being dragged into a large mouth.

My own mouth dropped open as I stared at the others, discovering that the movie, and even the deviled eggs, were now quite forgotten by my mind too.

“Go look,” said Claire, who could apparently see that I was torn between duty and the elephant.

The elephant won, and I scrambled over to our log viewing point to watch the gigantic black mass outside our wall rip branches off trees like they were twigs, and drag foliage slowly into that huge mouth.

Somehow, it never gets old.

We did eventually resume the movie and enjoy the rest of the evening. But in truth, the ele won in the surprise stakes.

And that is the story of how we ended up with an elephant at the cinema.

A small rebellion

August 26, 2020

I’ve always thought of going to church as a rebellious act.

So starting one, which we’ve sort of accidentally gotten wrapped up in (we got caught up in the wrong crowd) seems altogether off the rails.

Perhaps the feeling of rebellion comes because excessive drinking, drugs and sex are so stock standard for my generation that they seem quite conventional. But I suspect there is more to it.

After all, signing up to a community that requires commitment and self-sacrifice seems audacious in an age of individualism.

Saying to a world that tells us above all else to follow our hearts: “the heart is deceitful above all things” is outright anarchy.

And believing the truth is a person with His own voice, instead of a social construct we all make up, feels rather subversive.

It’s all very exciting.

Anyways, back to Victoria Falls. When we first moved here we nobly and generously decided to tell the Good Lord ‘mi casa, su casa’. In particular, we informed Him, our cottage was at His disposal.

We went on our merry way, expecting nothing to happen.

Then the guests started arriving. Week after week we were asked whether some person or other couldn’t stay with us for a few nights as they were passing through the Falls. In the end, we had guests for about 40 of the 52 weeks in last year.

Given that we live two kilometers from one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, that may not seem surprising. What was, however, was the theme that began to emerge in our guests. Rather a large number of them were Christian folk, from all over Zimbabwe and South Africa who, unknown to each other all told us the same thing: They were certain God was up to something in Victoria Falls to do with establishing a church, and they felt called to come and pray/encourage/the local Christians.

Our property, and especially the cottage, had unwittingly become the headquarters for the local rebellion.

Eventually, a couple from Bulawayo began to turn up quite regularly, and asked if they could host a Bible study at our house. We had told the Good Lord it was His property so literally for better or for worse, while richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, we opened the doors.

I confess to being a weak enough character that many times I resented just how seriously the Good Lord had taken our noble (but on my part apparently empty) words.

The dining room was bulb-less, so meals were shared by the light of candles rammed into empty bottles of spirits (not all ours) whether there were power cuts or not.

There was no lounge to speak of- a couple of cushion-less weave couches that didn’t fit together, our ‘office’ desk and a large chest. But we threw in some chairs and we were away.

Anywhere from two, to 10 people turned up on the night.

Once, with the full consent of the local fellowship leader, a church service was added in. Our garden was the cathedral, we sang a few songs, and someone spoke.

Then, just when our lounge got too small and we decided to formally find a building and call our group a ‘church’, COVID hit.

So, our studies were held on WhatsApp, which worked for most people because the internet was too dodgy for Zoom.

By the time we could hold services again, our group had grown to about 40, and we had found a mothballed bar and restaurant in which to hold services.

Ten noisy, loud children ran riot, up from one (Kepler) church kid over the past two years.

And so, here we are, a motley crew of wonderful people all singing away every three weeks to the sound of the Falls, and a guitar, with coffee and tea served from a bar counter after a sermon given with no powerpoint presentation but with a view of the rising mist from that World Wonder waterfall.

The Falls Church has been founded, and the joyful rebellion is on its way.

Soul sedimentation

July 9, 2020

It’s nearly two years since Will and I hit the ground running in Vic Falls.

Now, I love a good run, but I have to say two years of it is hectic.

Which is why the DRAMATICALLY slower pace COVID has foisted upon us all hasn’t all been bad for us.

Last year felt insane. It was exhilarating, chaotic, difficult, fun, brutal and nowhere close to boring.

The year before was, for me, almost emotionally traumatic. It involved months of dreading goodbyes, which got more and more unavoidable with every passing day, and so more and more painful. I still hate even thinking about those final few weeks in New Zealand.

But, when I was pondering what this year would look like at the end of 2019, the words ‘make it your ambition to lead a quiet life’ kept rolling through my brain. I knew, after two years of rollercoasters, it was time to get off the ride and stand on the sidelines for a bit.

Given that I was also mega pregga, it seemed like a good idea anyways.

Now, that may sound easy, but it turns out that when you have been living on adrenaline for so long, winding life back (even with a baby) is actually quite hard. You feel a bit edgy, skittish, jumpy- mad basically. Throw in a my people-focused personality and saying no to social occasions is virtually impossible.

So COVID did the job for me.

Months of lockdown, a slower pace, and seclusion on our beautiful property have had me feeling all soul sedimenty. Like my life was a jar full of water and soil being shaken violently by a crazy man, which had suddenly been set down. Everything is settling into place. Rythym, routine, friendships, sights, sounds, smells are all familiar now.

It’s quieter, for sure. Some might even say boring. But it is, I know deep down, very necessary.

There is a bit of a downside to all this settling for me; I have been feeling WAY more homesick. It seems strange to feel it hit in year two, but I just don’t think I’ve had a chance to notice until now.

For the first time since I moved I’ve had days staring at the door wishing my mum would walk through it, or moments staring at the Zambezi River with the Waikato River rushing through my mind.

I suppose there always will be two worlds in my mind and heart. That’s just part of moving, especially if you come to love your new home, too.

So for now I’ll take the slower pace, even if it does mean a bit of homesickness- it’s just so nice to be settling.

A wild life

June 27, 2020

One of the COOLEST things about living in Victoria Falls is the wildlife.

From the warthog family wandering our road most days checking out shrubs, to the mongeese (mongooses?) outside the post office, to the BEHEMOTH pregnant ele and her two calves who destroyed the tree opposite our gate or the chameleon living in our garden, there is always an awesome creature nearby.

Since town has quietened down a tad (ha!) the animal residents of the region have been a little more comfortable meandering around, and IT’S AMAZING!!!

On our property is Callum the chameleon, who features in the video below chowing an unfortunate grasshopper.

Occasionally on the road outside is an ele who pops by of an evening…or 1am, to snack on a certain tree she quite likes just outside our gate.

Below you can see her legs, just, thanks to the light cast by a surprised car trying to get along our road. You can also see her teenager and bubba swinging it’s trunk.

Sneakily climbing our fence and watching the incredible creatures wreak havoc on our road about 2 meters away was, funnily enough, one our most romantic dates ever. In the morning, the results were left sprawled all over the road.

The local warthog leads a family of nine, including his wife, mother and six kids (at least that’s what it looks like to my uneducated eye).

The mongoose family are too numerous to name, but seem to enjoy playing hide and seek in the drain outside the post office on pleasant days- which is almost every day because it only rains between November and January.

I did also have an argument with a hairy caterpillar, which sent waves of dizziness spinning through my brain and unbearable itching through my whole body until a red, raw, bumpy rash solidified across my knees. For four nights I had ice packs tied to my legs trying to stop the burning.

The photographs in no way do the furious, abundant red justice.

I concede the caterpillar won that round, and I don’t intend to find out if it would win another.

The sound track for this life is magnificent too. Apart from the roaring of the Falls- which would be enough to listen to each night in itself- there is the roaring of lions, and the booming call of the hyena at night. The bullfrogs are obnoxiously loud, the cicadas a dainty addition to our evenings, and the day is enclosed with the song of the Heughlin’s Robin (recently renamed something else, which I can never remember), amongst many other birds (we have a resident Barn Owl, the Trumpeter Hornbills Donald and Melania, and some Paradise Flycatchers…even the odd Kingfisher drops by).

There is, obviously, also the chance of snakes which I don’t love. Rather a few too many Puff adders have been around lately, and you don’t have to live in Africa too long to learn they are the ones to be scared of. They aren’t the most poisonous- but they are the most lazy. They just don’t move until you step on them…and then it is to complain with a poisonous bite that can be survived, but must be treated quickly.

Centipedes, spiders and other creepy crawlies are also not on my favorites list, but must be endured if the rest are to be enjoyed.

And having lived here for two years now, I can testify that the balance falls well and truly on the side of enjoyment.

It really is a magnificent, wild, life.

A MASSIVE thank you, friends

June 27, 2020

Last month I published a blog about what happens when COVID hits a developing country.

The thrust of it was that the actual health threat posed by COVID was and remains nothing in comparison to the famine crisis the global economic shutdown has kicked off for countries like ours.

The latest figures from worldometre show that 12 people have died of starvation this year for every person who has died from Coronavirus. That gap is likely to get much worse in coming months.

A number of you responded asking how to help, so we pointed people in two directions: Jafuta Foundation and Greenline Africa Trust.

A MASSIVE thank you to those of you who donated.

Jamie (or Will, for anyone outside of Zimbabwe 🙄) managed to get out with Greenline Africa a couple of weeks ago to see where that money went.

Below is the video we put together. We will keep you all updated over the coming months, and I’ll try to get back into a bit more blogging now that Elodie has started sleeping more than half an hour during the day!

COVID in a developing country

May 4, 2020

So, as most of you know (from AVIDLY following my blog) I’m a first-world girl living in a developing country.

I’ve wondered – a million times – how to write about COVID here, because I’ve struggled with how to make it relatable.

After all, while we watched the first world hit panic stations over hospital beds and flattening the curve, we were glancing sideways at a hospital with one ventilator (when they were all the buzz) and zero isolation units between 33,000 of us.

While ‘stay home, save lives’ became the catch cry of the West, we were watching tourism dry up in a tourist town where there is little to no real government support to fall back on when you lose your job (as have an estimated 90 per cent of us).

Hunger, and thereafter starvation, are very real possibilities in the coming weeks and months for roughly 20,000 of the people in this town.

It all makes the question ‘how can I help?’ so much more tangible and pressing when there is no substantial formal support system in place.

I’m not trying to be mean spirited, or political. I understand these times are scary for all of us, no matter where we live. What I am trying to get at is that living here has given me a different perspective on pandemics to what I think I would have back home.

Our little town, Vic Falls, is doing its best.

Members of our grassroots COVID Taskforce (to which you can donate here for medical supplies, and here for food) have, among other things, ensured donations are recorded and channelled appropriately, organised PPE and medical equipment for our local hospital, and organised urban planting initiatives. Many of us have jumped onboard enlarging vegetable gardens and planting every seed we can get our hands on.

Others have organised fundraisers and worked on spreading the word, while councillors in each ward are working on lists of the most vulnerable towards which donations can be channelled.

It is incredibly inspiring to watch, we are getting closer to our goals…and it has all made me feel rather useless.

After all, I don’t have official contacts I can work. I don’t have piles of money to donate. I don’t have local knowledge to even begin to organise food supplies…but it dawned on me a few days ago that I do have one thing.

I can sort of write.

So, here’s what feels like a very insubstantial attempt to help the little town that has captured my heart – and the hearts of so many around the world who have passed through.

You can help too, of course. By donating at one of the links, by sharing this article so others can donate, or just by booking in and paying for that holiday you’ve been planning for a while- even if it is only for next year.

Every little bit helps business owners keep paying staff through this tough time, or local aid organizations to get the supplies we so critically need.

We SO appreciate it, and from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Famine Relief:

Medical Supplies: