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Zimbabwe Esnath

Rebuilding lives in Zimbabwe


Giving a strong woman back her independence.

Esnath's story

Community education|Clean water & sanitation|food and nutrition security

It was one accident, one moment, which would transform the life of 45 year old Esnath - robbing her of her independence and leaving her trapped inside her home in a plastic garden chair. The journey back to self-sufficiency would take far longer.

Esnath Tschuma trapped her foot in a fence while in a field, fell and instantly found herself paralysed in both legs – her shattered bones leaving her unable to walk without crutches. Without access to a wheelchair, she had to make do with what she could – a piece of plastic furniture which added to her misery, depression and feeling of hopelessness.

“I suddenly felt like I couldn’t do anything, that I was helpless”, Esnath recalls.

“After my injury I just spend a lot of time sitting around doing nothing.”

At this point, feeling she had reached her lowest point, fate turned against her once again.

Her husband travelled to South Africa to look for work, promising to send his disabled wife back wages to support her. Despite all the promises, the money never came.

Since then Esnath has been relying on money from her brother and the kindness of her neighbours in order to survive. She had to turn to the sale of her own personal items, like used blankets and dresses, to buy the essentials – food and medicine.

Esnath lives in Tjompani village in Bulilima District, Zimbabwe with her 13 year-old nephew Tandana. After her accident she was no longer able to perform most of her daily activities like fetching water, collecting firewood, or farming. Cooking over an open fire on the ground became a particularly uncomfortable task - but one she refused to give up.

Esnath sister-in-law

Luckily, Esnath’s sister-in-law Tshiomanana had participated in a training organised by International Medical Corps and had learned how to build an environmentally friendly, fuel-efficient eco-stove.

After learning how to work with the clay she also realised that she could easily build a platform for Esnath’s eco-stove which would allow her to cook while seated – freeing her from the pain of crouching down.

The results exceeded all of Esnath’s expectations - not only was she now able to complete her daily chores with increased manageability but due to eco-stove’s reduced need for firewood, her young nephew could save time and energy typically spent searching for increasingly scarce wood in the bush.

The training was part of Amalima, a five-year development programme implemented by International Medical Corps. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of Food for Peace and led by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), Amalima aims at improving food and nutrition security in Zimbabwe.

Together with Tschiomanana, Esnath also joined Amalima’s Community Health Clubs (CHC’s) which promote increased awareness of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices in the community and where members can learn about money management.

Thanks to the training, Esnath has re-established her ‘can do’ attitude. She already has plans to grow her small livestock herd and is looking forward to becoming economically self-sufficient again.


“After joining the CHC, I realised that I could stand up for myself and do something with my life”, Esnath said.

Belonging to the club created a special comradery between Esnath and the other members. The group proved to be more than just a social outlet though - recognising her needs, the group pitched in to build Esnath a hand washing station, a private bathing area and a rubbish pit at her home – all designed to help her regain a form of independence despite her injuries.

“The support and friendship from my group members has been as vital to my livelihood as the things I have learned. I am so grateful for this opportunity.

It has given me a sense of purpose again.

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