This August, National Women’s Month, we celebrate women – all that they do, and all that they stand for. This week, PHIRI CAWE speaks to Reverend Maureen Zoliswa Figlan from Mandalay.
The Covid-19 lockdown and restrictions have hit many people very hard, and among those who have been feeling an extra burden are foreign nationals living in the country, who are not eligible to benefit from social grants and the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).
And it is a group of these foreigners, many of them Zimbabweans living in Bardale Village, Mfuleni, whom a Mandalay church leader is trying to help.
It was during level 3 of the lockdown that Maureen Zoliswa Figlan first encountered the tremendous difficulties being faced by foreign nationals living in Bardale. And so hard did it hit her, that she used what little she had to buy food for a group of Zimbabweans living in the area, and started rallying additional help.
Ms Figlan is the former principal of kwaFaku Primary School in Lower Crossroads and district superintendent of the United Methodist Church.
”Before the pandemic we were doing our own things and comfortable with what we were doing. Then came the pandemic and hit us hard. It was harder for foreigners because they have no access to the UIF that many are benefiting from,” she said.
“They cannot go home to be with their families. What is worse they (do) not have food and rent. That is why I had to stand up and do something,” she said.
She now wants to launch a daily feeding programme for the foreigners living there.
“I cannot feed the soul and leave the body. We were also raised to share what we have. It was and is still unAfrican to have a meal while others do not. I sleep with a full (stomach) and yet there are people out there who have nothing. That is not how I was raised,” she said.
Florence Sithole, 38, was among those who benefited from the reverend’s generosity. “Gratitude to her. We will now have something to cook. This has been the most difficult month(s) for us. She has rescued us. May she continue with her great work. Blessings to her,” she said.
Reverend Elijah Kabungaidze, from Zimbabwe, commended Ms Figlan on her good work. “These people are finding it hard,” he said. “Remember most of them were working in the hotel industry and tourism. They are now facing tough times.”