Grateful, Thankful, Blessed

Life is so ironic, it takes sadness to know what happiness is, noise to appreciate silence and absence to value presence. Looking back at my life never did I ever think or imagine ever travelling to Europe. When God grants you his favour nothing can stop the blessings, he has in store for you. When he selects you, it doesn’t matter who else rejected you for his favour outweighs all opposition and this is the story of my life.

Having to travel to the Netherlands has been an enlightening experience overwhelming and exciting at the same time which am thankful for and would not trade it for anything in the world. Being in a first world country opened my eyes to a lot of things and I also learnt a lot during my visit.

A lot of things caught my eyes from the time I arrived at the airport, the first being the fast and free internet. Free WIFI is almost in every public place including the bus, train, restaurants just to mention a few. Not only is it free but fast as well.

Being a food lover, I must say I gained within a short space of time because of the delicious food that I have been eating. Food ranging from mixed grills, ice-cream, cheese, fruits, and not forgetting the amazing chocolates.

I was really amazed by the many different modes of transport they use which we take for granted, for instant they use bicycles everywhere they go but here it seems to be something of the past and out dated. Their modes of transport range from rail, road, water and air. The most common mode of transport in the area where I was staying was the bicycle. Most people cycle everywhere to work, school, shops or even the doctors. And when they work in another town, they ride their bikes to the train or bus station where they are parking bays for bicycles and leave them there or take them on board if they are fold-able bikes.

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When I visited the hospital, I was blown away with the facilities found within the hospital itself. I visited one of the biggest hospitals in Groningen and within the hospital there is a huge shopping mall with shops ranging from salons, boutiques, restaurants, a mini museum, recreational park all the things and more found in a normal mall.

Talking about shopping, I really enjoyed going to the mall because of how efficient and fast shopping is. In most shops there is the self-service option where people get to scan and pay their own goods without the need of a shop assistance. There are a variety of shops to suit anyone, ranging from shops that sell the most expensive labels to the cheap shops that sell second hand clothing like the Dorcas which I mentioned in my last article. I also got a new camera at Anno Foto Bakker, a Lumix G80 camera that is water and dust proof and also records videos in 4k.

I also had the privilege of handing over the first magazine of Transport4transport to the alderman of Hogeveen which made its way to the papers, something I wasn’t expecting. The magazine was written in celebration of the organisation’s 10th anniversary, and I had the honour to edit and write most of the articles in it.

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I also had the chance to visit the Dutch Reformed church where I was asked to say a few words about my reasons for visit, but because I was so nervous to say anything I had to sing first before saying anything.

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Before leaving for Zimbabwe I went to the oil town of Schoonebeek and on my way there I also went to Germany. Whilst I was in Schoonebeek I was at the Kolkman Bakkerij one of the biggest bakeries in the town. I witnessed how they ran the bakery and how the business requires a lot of time and waking up early morning in order to meet the daily orders.

I had an amazing stay because of the hospitality I received from the van der Weide family, Kolkman’s, Robert Niezing and everyone who made my stay comfortable, thank you so much and may God bless you all.

In conclusion I would like to say, God does not stop every difficulty, every bad break but he will surely give you strength, the power, the grace to go through and he surely is doing this for me. Be kind, be grateful, be genuine but most of all be thankful.

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Not luck, but GRACE😊

When Grace locates you it breaks all protocols of life and you find yourself in positions you did not even apply for. When Grace locates you a table is set before your enemies and your cup will overflow despite any situation and without any hindrance.

Grace located me and for the first time in my life I had my very first flight to Europe. Having to fly was an experience on its own but having to fly to Europe was mind blowing.

Apon arrival in the Netherlands I went to Hoogeveen which is where I am staying and I had the pleasure of taking a tour of the city and visiting a second hand shop called the Dorcas.

The Dorcas is a shop where people take their belongings which they no longer have use for but sure someone can use them and the proceeds received from selling them are sent to African countries to help the less privileged in projects such as water supply, orphanages, agriculture, education just to mention a few.
The store has goods ranging from jewelry, toys, shoes, clothing, kitchen equipment, furniture anything that you might think of.

What really excited me is that am African so after buying a few things I definitely knew I have made a change in a fellow Africans life I have no clue where but feels good knowing that the little I spent is going to make a difference somewhere. The people at the shop are all volunteers showing how you can make a difference just by giving your time or whatever little you have.

It’s all because of Grace that I am hear and Grace will surely continue taking me further!

Good-bye 2017 hello 2018

It’s that time of the year where you sit down and reflect if what you set to archive beginning of year is what you ended up doing, well as for me what i set to do and what i have done is way beyond what i had ever imagined i would be able to archive this year. It is not by might, power or my own strength but the grace of God.

Am thankful for all that i had to go through to get to where i am today, the highs and lows, the ups and downs for without that life would be a straight smooth road to nowhere.

Many thanks to everyone who’s been with me through out the year, everyone who has stood by me through thick and thin, everyone who has believed in me am most grateful and want to wish you all a prosperous 2018!

Where I’ve been

So I have been quiet for over a year now and you might have been wondering where I have disappeared to, well life has been happening and its been hard to keep up, in a good way that is.

Early this year I had to leave my job in Harare due to reasons that were beyond me, and as I was home it was not easy just watching the sun rise and set each and everyday which was when I decided to visit my family in Malawi which was when the adventures began.

 

I have joined this incredible team that helps the less privileged and other vulnerable groups as their Communications Officer and my job is to take pictures, videos and write articles. I now have this beautiful signature to all my pictures (like in the pictures inserted), a website drone4life.org and many many more wonderful things in store for me in the year ahead.

Hoping you all had a beautiful Christmas and are looking forward to the year ahead.

Zimbabweans grieve on social media via #howtheyrobbedus


Social media is a powerful tool for people to air their views. Since Monday, a hashtag has emerged on Twitter that makes for painful reading –  #HowTheyRobbedUs. It has unearthed hundreds of individual stories of suffering and humiliation from ordinary Zimbabweans who have suffered as a result of the political and economic decay in Zimbabwe. A Twitter analytics plugin suggests that 600 posts have been shared so far, reaching nearly 3 million Twitter users around the world.

The hashtag was started on 17 October by Phil Chard (@PhilChard) or Phylent Phlossy as he is known on Twitter. Chard says in the last few months he’s come across a lot of Zimbabweans in South Africa and seen updates from many more on social media who are very hurt and traumatised about how life has unfolded in Zimbabwe over the past 16 years.

Chard told Harare News that young adults have been forced to grow up in foreign lands. Others attended universities only to find out there are no jobs available. Families have been separated and have not seen each other in years and others still have been forced to find work in foreign lands where they are treated as second class citizens.

“There is this overriding feeling among young adults from Zimbabwe: that we are failures because we have not had the opportunity to start our lives or build homes or secure our futures. So a few days ago, I decided to start the hashtag where I spoke about my frustrations and how our leaders have failed to live up to their mandates and build the Zimbabwe that we were promised in 1980. I encouraged Zimbabweans to participate,” he said.

“Sadly the stories I am seeing are a reflection of the stories that sparked my idea. What is shocking is the amount of people who all share similar, heartbreaking and traumatic experiences. The amount of Zimbabweans on social media represents a small fraction of Zimbabwe’s population still at home and in the Diaspora. So seeing the large number of stories from such a small amount of people just shows how many people are hurting and suffering” he added.

Chard concludes, “All I wanted to do was start a dialogue on how Zimbabweans have been robbed of a fulfilling existence. This is by no means a political movement that is meant to vilify one party or another. Frankly ALL OF OUR LEADERS have failed Zimbabwe, not just a select few. The hashtag and the stories belong to the people. They will decide what happens next. For now I just feel it’s important that everyone shares their stories however they can. Whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or on blogs.” 

Image credit: Trickmillion

Dealing with HIV

 

After HIV was first discovered in the 1980s, there followed a lot of stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV and AIDS. But after four decades of campaigns to educate people about the virus and treatment, HIV is now largely viewed as being similar to any other chronic illness or condition.

Over time, the stigma of this sexually-transmitted virus is wearing away, and instead of feeling fearful to disclose that you have HIV, it has now become imperative that you know your status so that you can receive effective treatment. Nowadays, modern medical treatment means that people living with HIV can live long, healthy lives without infecting their partners if they regularly take their medication.

Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) slowly attacks the immune system which is the body’s natural defence against illness. The virus destroys a type of white blood cell called a T-helper cell (CD4 cell) and makes copies of itself inside them. If left untreated, HIV can cause Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). When HIV progresses to AIDS, it means that a person’s immune system is too weak to fight off infection, which can lead to death.

According to statistics from UNAIDS, incidences of HIV in Zimbabwe reduced by 50% from 2010 to 2015. Incidences of HIV also reduced among children from 30% in 2010 to less than 5% in 2015 and HIV/AIDS-related mortality reduced by 38%. However, there are certain areas where HIV rates are still high: border towns, mining areas, growth points and resettled farms. HIV prevalence is also slightly higher in high density urban areas than in rural areas.

HIV affects many people from all walks of life. 40 year old Shadreck Shanga of Mt. Hampden was recently diagnosed with the virus. “I lost my wife to AIDS last year in June, but every time I went to be tested, I was found to be HIV negative. When I fell seriously ill in April and went to the clinic, I was found to be negative once again. It was only when I changed hospitals and was tested yet again that I was told I had the virus.”

Dr Cleophas Chimbetete, who treats many HIV positive patients, says HIV is transmitted either through unprotected sex, sharing sharp objects such as razor blades and needles, and through parent-to-child transmission (PMTCT).

“In the past if someone was HIV positive, doctors would look at their immune system to see how far the virus had affected it and continue to check their immune system regularly before eventually deciding whether the patient now qualifies for Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) or not. But over time and with more research, it was found out that once you have the virus in your body it is already doing damage, so the earlier you begin treatment, the better for the individual. Early treatment means that the amount of virus in the body (viral load) comes down. Ultimately this means that you become healthier and at the same time you are less likely to transmit it to others when you have a low viral load,” he explained.

Pregnant women can transmit HIV to their children either while in the uterus, during delivery or while breastfeeding. This is why it is a requirement for all pregnant women to know their status. If you are pregnant and discover that you are HIV positive, you can immediately be put on ART to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to your unborn child.

“What determines whether you transmit HIV to the baby is the amount of virus you have in your body. If we are able to lower the viral load in a pregnant mother’s body, then the risk of her unborn child getting the virus is lowered. This also means she can have a normal pregnancy and does not need to have a c-section when she delivers and can also breastfeed for as long as she wants as her chances of transmitting the virus are less than two percent,” said Dr Chimbetete.

ART helps reduce the amount of virus in your body therefore reducing the chances of transmission. Shanga was put on ART soon after he found out he was HIV positive and is taking his medication regularly as prescribed by the doctor. Together with a healthy diet consisting of a lot of traditional foods, he is now able to live a normal, healthy life. Like high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma, HIV can be treated only if you know your status.

Everyone should know their HIV status. This is important to reduce the risk of you spreading the virus if you are HIV positive. In the event that you discover that you are HIV positive, consistent treatment with ART as soon as possible can lower your viral load and allow you to live a long, healthy normal life. If you are HIV negative, practice the ABCs: abstinence, being faithful to one partner, and constant condom use whenever you have sexual intercourse. You can get tested for HIV at any council clinic, hospital and all New Start centres.

 

Know your HIV status. To get tested, visit the New Start Centre at: 2nd floor New Africa House, 40 Kwame Nkrumah Avenue.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer develops from the breast tissue, that is, the nipple, the breast itself, the armpit and other areas surrounding the breast. The most common type of breast cancer is ductile carcinoma, which begins in the cells of the ducts. Breast cancer can also begin in the cells of the lobules and in other tissues in the breast. Invasive breast cancer occurs when the cancer has spread from where it began into the ducts or lobules to surrounding tissue.

Statistics show that breast cancer is the second most common cancer in black women in Zimbabwe affecting about 12.5%. The most common being cervical cancer – affecting 32.1%. For Zimbabwean women of other races, breast cancer is also the second most common type of cancer, affecting about 21.3%, following non-melanoma cancer (a skin cancer) which affects 43.7%. Signs and symptoms of breast cancer may include a lump in the breast, a change in breast shape, dimpling of the skin, fluid coming from the nipple, or a red scaly patch of skin.

Information, Research and Evaluation Officer at the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe, Lovemore Makurirofa, says breast cancer used to be common in women over 40 years old but now people are getting breast cancer as young as 20. “Anyone can get breast cancer – even men, though that is rare. But when men do get breast cancer, it is more likely to be very aggressive,” he added.

“The causes of breast cancer are unknown but there are high risk factors which may predispose women to develop breast cancer such as obesity, lack of physical exercise, drinking alcohol, hormone replacement therapy during menopause, first menstruation at an early age, having children late or not at all, and family history. In men, family history and having higher levels of estrogen than normal (Klinefelter’s syndrome) can contribute to the development of cancer,” Makurirofa explained.

There are ways of preventing breast cancer such as a diet low in animal fat and high in fibre, including fresh fruit and vegetables, avoiding oily, salty, high fat foods, dairy products and sugary foods, reducing your intake of fast foods as they contain lots of fat, exercising regularly, and avoiding cigarettes and alcohol.

Dealing with Asthma

Asthma is a respiratory condition marked by spasms (swelling) in the bronchi of the lungs which cause difficulty in breathing. Asthma is usually linked to an allergic reaction or other forms of hypersensitivity.

Asthma affects many people from all walks of life. Tiffany Funga, a University student studying marketing, has suffered from asthma since childhood. “I have had asthma since I was very young. My attacks are triggered by dust, pollen and cold weather.”

Doctor Christopher Pasi, a Specialist Physician at Harare Hospital, says, “Asthma is a reversible airways disease associated with wheezing, coughing, tightness of the chest and shortness of breath. It is usually allergy-based and symptoms can worsen when someone exercises, has had the flu, if they have inhaled certain allergens, or if there is a change in weather. Occasionally an excess in emotions – either when one gets too excited or too sad – if they are asthma-prone can cause an attack. Asthma is also genetic.”

Dr Pasi says if one has asthma their airways are always swollen and can worsen when something triggers their symptoms which make it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs. “Signs and symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing shortness of breath and chest tightness. Triggers for asthma include allergies and exposure to allergens such as pet dander, dust mite, pollen, mold and non-allergic triggers which include smoke, pollution, cold air or changes in weather,” he added.

Childhood asthma affects a lot of children who have allergies such as eczema, hay fever or food allergies and an asthma family history. Occupational asthma is caused when one inhales fumes, gases, dust or other harmful substances while at work which triggers asthmatic symptoms. One can even develop asthma symptoms only when exercising which is called exercise-induced bronchonstriction (EIB) or exercise induced asthma (EIA).

“Doctors diagnose asthma by taking a thorough medical test history and performing breathing tests to measure how well ones lungs work. One of the test is called spirometry where you take deep breathes and blow into a sensor to measure the amount of air your lungs can hold and the speed of the air you inhale or exhale. This test diagnoses asthma severity and measures how well treatment is working,” Dr Pasi explained. “So one should not be a prison of their asthma as it can be controlled after diagnoses,” he added.

Funga knows what triggers her asthma attacks and tries by all means to avoid inhaling chalk dust by sitting at the back in her class room, keeping warm when it is cold.

There is no cure for asthma but symptoms can be controlled by taking your medication as directed by your doctor and by avoiding triggers that may cause symptoms. Keep your house clean from dust, pet fur and mold, and keep yourself warm.

Dealing with Diabetes

 

 

Diabetes is a chronic condition associated with abnormally high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. There are several types of diabetes but the two most common are: Type One Diabetes, also referred to as Juvenile Diabetes or Early Onset Diabetes, and Type Two Diabetes, which develops with age.

Diabetes affects many people from all walks of life. One such affected is our Sales Manager at Harare News, Newton Musara, a husband and father of five. “I was diagnosed with diabetes last November. I was feeling a bit strange – I was constantly hungry and thirsty, my mouth was always dry, and I had blurred vision, so I went to the clinic. I was asked to take a test which confirmed I had diabetes and was put on medication,” he recalls.

Doctor John Chamunorwa Mangwiro, a diabetes specialist and also president of the Zimbabwe Diabetic Association, says, “Diabetes is a shortage of insulin (hormone required to push starch or cholesterol or carbohydrates into the muscles, liver or kidneys for the body to be able to use it) or the total absence of insulin. When there is a total absence of insulin, we call it Type One and this occurs in people younger than 30 who then have to be on insulin for the rest of their lives. Type Two Diabetes occurs in people above 30 because the insulin hormone may be deficient or low. In Type Two Diabetes, the insulin is being produced but is not being used in the body properly,” he explained.

Dr Mangwiro says the signs and symptoms of diabetes include increased urination, feeling very thirsty and having a dry mouth, hunger, weight gain or loss, feeling tired, wounds that will not heal, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. Mangwiro added that it is also possible to develop high blood pressure, have a stroke, or experience kidney failure. “Diabetes is an immune-suppressive disease. It can attack any organ in the body,” he added.

Doctors use an A1C test to test for diabetes. If your blood sugar level is above 6.5%, it means you are diabetic. If it is between 5.7% and 5.99%, it means you are prediabetic. If the test shows your blood sugar level is less than 5.7%, this means that it is normal.

“If a person is diagnosed with Type One Diabetes, they have to take insulin for the rest of their lives, on top of a eating a balanced diet. Type Two can be controlled by medication and or eating healthy foods, eating fewer carbohydrates. For example, you should eat a portion of sadza equal to the size of a fist, eat a lot of vegetables, and no more than two pieces of meat the size of a match box. Eating at the right time (more in the morning and less in the evening) to reduce weight gain is also important,” said Dr Mangwiro.

Newton’s blood sugar levels are back to normal since he completely changed his lifestyle. He now makes sure he exercises, eats healthy, and takes medication as prescribed. Exercising, eating a balanced diet with a lot of vegetables and traditional foods, and avoiding refined foods as much as possible can make the difference in preventing diabetes.

Finally, there is a need to put to bed the popular myth that consuming sugar causes diabetes. According to Dr Mangwiro, our main sugars come from sadza, potatoes, milk and many carbohydrate rich foods. These make people gain weight leading to obesity, one cause of diabetes. So it is not true that just eating sugar causes diabetes, though sugar should still be avoided.

 

If you have any of the above-mentioned symptoms for diabetes, please consult your doctor immediately for medical attention.

Carron Tambala is the editorial assistant at Harare News. Send feedback or suggest a health issue for Carron to investigate by emailing carron@hararenews.co.zw.

My best story yet online

I wrote this article in April and of all the stories i have written so far its the one that has had most reads and has made the most impact.

Nellie English set out to run from Harare to Victoria Falls in abide to raise funds for the mentally challenged and she did,  well done Nellie you such an inspiration to women and every one.

This is the story below

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Tomorrow, 27 year-old Nellie English will attempt to run from Harare to Victoria Fall in a bid to raise funds for the Zimbabwe National Association for Mental Health (ZIMNAMH).

English – who was born in Harare but lives in Barcelona – says she loves running and wanted to challenge herself and test her love for the sport by running 724km to Victoria Falls for a worthy cause.

“Tuesday 5th of April at 5am, I will be lacing up my trainers, and getting ready to run 724km across Zimbabwe. It’s quite an insane undertaking!” Mental illness is hugely misunderstood in Africa, and all over the world. English hopes that the run will generate interest in an often
neglected cause.

The run is an extraordinary challenge for the running enthusiast. Running from Harare to Victoria Falls has never been done before and the route is both long and dangerous in parts. “The run itself will be really challenging. If I am able to run 42km every day, it will take me 17 days. I will also be planting trees every 40km along the way to commemorate the charity and the issue in general,” she added.

English says it has not been easy preparing for the run. Sorting out logistics, deciding on a starting point, and getting permission to do the run have all been part of her preparations. She thanks ZIMNAMH for providing her with a car and driver that will carry her belongings and for helping with police clearance. Despite all the administrative preparation, English says she has been able to squeeze in time to train for the run.

ZIMNAMH is a Harare-based organization whose primary goal is to promote the recognition of rights for people with mental disabilities in society. The organisation offers counselling, training and psycho-social support services to vulnerable groups which include children, women, ex-prisoners and displaced persons. It also provides rehabilitation services at its Tirivanhu Centre in Ruwa which offers life skills training and rehabilitation.

So far, English has raised over $1,500 and is still looking for donations. Support English and help raise awareness for mental health by donating towww.gofundme.com. To find out more about English and her efforts, check out:www.facebook.com/ambessaRUN andwww.instagram.com/ambessarun or nellieenglish.wordpress.com.