Covid – 19 pandemic, a devastating blow for Mutemwa Leprosy Care Centre

By Anyway Yotamu.
MUTOKO – The Covid-19 outbreak has affected the pilgrim site of Mutemwa Care Leprosy Centre as pilgrims are no longer visit the place.
Situated at about 150 kilometres North East of the capital Harare near the border of Mozambique, this became home for John Bradburne and his beloved family, the people who live with leprosy.
Mutemwa is home to more than 35 elderly residents, including people affected by leprosy, leprosy disability and society outcasts.
“We rely mostly on people who visit like most Catholics coming from all over Methodist, Anglican and other indigenous churches from all walks of life come here to support us and our people here leaving us some handouts such as clothing and food
The outbreak has affected all that because it limited the people who come to visit to extend some support when they come to pray,” says Mutemwa Leprosy Care Centre Admistrator, Father Linous Mukumbuzi.
Mutemwa Leprosy Care Centre started as a leprosarium around 1937 with a few patients and growing into a huge leprosarium in the 1940’s and 50’s with nearly 1000 patients. In 1962, with the introduction of the drug Dapsone, which can cure the leprosy bacteria, the center was closed and many patients were asked to seek home based care.
However some patients had no suitable or local homes to go to, about 200 of them, some from Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania who were part of the migrant labour force who came to Rhodesia to seek work on the white farms. This forced Mutemwa Leprosy Care Centreto remain open and keep rendering social support to these patients and others who had no suitable homes to return to.
The centre is in dire need of water to sustain current projects on site that include piggery, cattle and chicken production and food stuffs.
Recently the Coca-Cola’s Women Linc Zimbabwe led by Patricia Murambinda donated goods worth ZWL$500 000 to Mutemwa Leprosy Care Centre.
The gesture comes at a time the leprosy centre which houses about 35 people including the elderly and destitute has been struggling to cater for the home.
Donated items by the women’s linc include 300 chicken layers, 1, 5 tonnes of layer feed, 9x12l waterfronts, nine ribbed tube feeders and stress packs meant to kick start a much needed poultry project.
“We continue to see support. Currently, we have had a handful of donations coming in from Coca-Cola Women’s Linc donating chickens which are now laying eggs. We also have other people who come here now and again to give us food stuffs to keep us going. The current challenge we have is water. We tried to drill a borehole over the past few weeks but it looks like the ground does not support underground water at all because of granite”
“So we are still really searching for water source around to supply for irrigation as well as day to day basic water for cleaning, watering our crops and animals. That is very critical for us. Looking into the future, we are hoping that our farming will improve. We have a 6 hectare plot which we hope if we can have farming equipment we can be able to grow our crops and become self sufficiency”, said Father Mukumbuzi.
“A big thank you to our perennial donors who have sustained the institution for years who range from the government, NGOs, private and public entities, churches and individuals”, added Father Mukumbuzi.

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