Vimbai Zhakata Post Correspondent
SEVEN years after its construction begun, Tsvingwe Clinic finally opened its doors to the public this week in a development that brought smiles on the faces of many villagers in Penhalonga.
Days of walking long distances to Old Umtali Mission Hospital are over.
Pregnant mothers would walk 14 km to the mission hospitals to deliver babies. Some failed to reach the hospital giving birth along the way.
Those struggles are now a thing of the past but certainly linger at the back of their minds. Some opted to give birth at home as the mere thought of walking to the mission hospital devastated them.
Giving birth became hell in a cell.
Completion of Tsvingwe Clinic was handicapped by shortage of resources. The community waited and watched in agony as council battled to complete construction works.
At one point council abandoned the project as it failed to mobilise resources to complete construction of the clinic, a project it started in 2012. The construction of the clinic gobbled $120 000.
The Manica Post news crew recently visited Tsvingwe Clinic, which is located in Ward 21 in Penhalonga in Mutasa South constituency. The joy among villagers over the completion of the clinic was almost tangible.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a mother of five narrated how giving birth had turned into a nightmare for many women in Tsvingwe.
In fact all her children were delivered by the road side on that long walk to the mission hospital. The fourth was a still born. Tears tumble down her cheeks every time she remembers how she lost the baby.
“We were on our way to the mission hospital with my husband. It was around midnight when the incident happened. I still think walking the long distance to the hospital contributed to the death of my baby,” narrated the woman as grief engulfed her face.
Another villager, Mr Fanwell Mukadiwei thanked Mutasa RDC and (donor) International Risk Community for building the clinic.
“The clinic means a lot to us as a community because we used to walk distances of as far as 15km to Old Umtali Mission and St Augustine Mission Hospitals. It was no easy walk at all especially for pregnant women,” he said.
The mountains made the walk to the hospital a gruesome battle.
“We welcome the opening of Tsvingwe Clinic whole heartedly. Many will now easily access medical attention,” added Mr Mukadiwei.
There is a private clinic close by but its services are beyond the reach of villagers. Its presence has become largely symbolic.
“We have a private clinic around — Oasis. It is very expensive and this forced villagers to embark on the long walk to the mission hospitals,” said Mukadiwei.
A villager who lives close to the private clinic, Mrs Fion Kiposa, said some ended up at Mutare Provincial Hospital as the mission hospitals were overwhelmed most of the times. “We thank the RDC for resuscitating our clinic,” said Mrs Kiposa.
Mr Liberty Zvasiya chipped in saying days of mountain climbing as villagers sought medical help were over.
“I have lived here since 2014 and we used to climb mountains with our patients. It is over now. We now have a clinic close by. This is good news especially to women most of whom gave birth by the roadside as they walked to missions hospitals,” he said.
A former councillor for Ward 21 in Mutasa South constituency, Mrs Tsverukai Duwa said the failure by council to complete construction of the clinic caused her serious headaches.
“I would every now and then help ferry the sick to hospital as they rushed to me for help as their local leader,” she said.
Mrs Duwa saluted council and all those who helped turn the dream into a reality.
“Mutasa RDC, the donor and the community worked hard to achieve this project. The community also worked hard to ensure its construction is completed,” she said.
Mutasa RDC chief executive officer Mr George Bandure said the clinic will serve 20 000 villagers in Penhalonga and beyond.
“Besides villagers, the clinic will benefit a lot of people including artisanal miners. This clinic is important for the district as villagers awaited its completion for years,” he said.
Mr Bandure said former Mutasa South legislator Irene Zindi helped electrify the clinic through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
“The RDC contributed over ZWL$80 000 while International Risk Community used about ZWL$40 000 to start the project. So far, the clinic is electrified, has water and sewer reticulation, among other things,” said Mr Bandure.