Two years ago immigration lawyer Samantha Murozoki started feeding her hungry neighbours in Chitungwiza using her own savings.
Murozoki (SM), who is founding director of Kuchengetana Trust, recounted in an exclusive interview with Alpha Media Holdings chairman Trevor Ncube (TN), how she started by feeding a group of 10 to 15 people until she got to the hundreds that are served meals every day.
She spoke about why she was always ready to assist others from a very young age. Below are excerpts from the interview.
TN: Samantha Murozoki, welcome to In Conversation With Trevor.
SM: Thank you for having me over Trevor, it is a pleasure.
TN: Samantha, when Covid hit in 2020, some of us were running around trying to see how best we could avoid it, and what you were doing was figuring out how you could feed people that had been impacted negatively by Covid.
Why were you doing that?
SM: To tell you the truth Trevor, I do not have a set answer for that.
I still ask myself like what are you doing Sam?
How did you get here? Long and short story of it is that I was back in a community, which I had been a part of since I was 14 years old.
So it made sense if someone came to knock at my gate and said they needed help with this, or me to respond to a child that was crying next door because they had not eaten anything the day before and reacting by saying, come let me give you food, let us cook and let me dish for you.
For me it was a normal thing for any person to do.
That is how I got into it, and I thought I would be dealing with figures of like 10 to 15 actually.
I did not think we would hit the figures of thousands. It is still a shock and I am still trying to ease into the wave actually, two years later.
TN: Talk to me about that shock? How does it manifest itself?
SM: You go to sleep and you have given 15 people food and the next day when you wake up trying to cook for those 15 you find out that there is about 200 or 300 people outside and you are thinking there is Covid.
I have never heard about this disease and it is killing people, what if I get these people killed by crowding at the house?
What if I get arrested for doing these things?
As there is protocol that had to be followed. How am I going to feed them?
I only have food that is enough for three weeks and enough for about 15 to 20 people and my family.
So all of these things started at that time and I was thinking how am I going to sustain this project and how am I going to explain it to my parents?
I was using my mother’s house. What have you done Sam?
Speaking from maybe a year later, the strains came in from the shortages of food, the inconsistencies in the donations that come through.
Things became really rocky at a certain point in time.
Now we were also at a point where we were saying if I did not wake up to go and knock at people’s doors or sell off something, I was not going to be able to feed the people I was dealing with now.
So all of these strains add to the shock and the shock never wears off because every day there is a rude awakening: Sam we had 250kg last week, my mum is already telling me we need to buy more mealie-meal, we needed cooking oil, I had kids that were not in school one time because I could not get cash donations.
There are different aspects that we deal with besides feeding people, and it all comes back to this big shockwave at the end of the day.
TN: Shockwave at the end of the day? Rude awakening every day? Why do you keep doing it?
SM: I would love to come up with a flowery response and tell you all these nice words and all, but I do not know why I am still doing it.
But I feel I have a moral obligation to satiate that hope that I ignited to the people.
Like if I tell a child I am going to give you a cup of water on a daily basis, it is my job to make sure I so for as long as I live, or for as long as I can make a plan.
So I keep going at it.
I think the African aspect, I come from a family where we believe that if we can help our neighbour or our cousin we should do it, at the expense of luxuries or a basic life.
For me, it is not really a shocker, the numbers are the ones that shock me but the act itself is not a shocker.
This is because from an early age I have witnessed my mum and my dad and my aunties do the same.
TN: Here is the thing. What you are doing this absolutely beautiful, stunning and inspirational.
- However, there is 16 million of us in this country, and more in the region, 75 million in the region plus, and that was not our natural reaction when Covid happened.
- When Covid happened, the majority of us looked at taking care of ourselves, taking care of our companies, taking care of our stuff, but you extended yourself and that is what I am trying to understand.
- That when everybody else is running away and trying to hide, trying to take care of themselves, you are extending yourself, you are actually running out and saying how can I help?
- I am trying to find out where that comes from?
SM: I think I would still put it back to upbringing, background, and also you need to have a natural inclination to wanting to help, the humanitarian aspect of it.
I am the kind of person even in high school I remember I almost got a beating from my mum when she gave me school fees, it was cash.
She put it in my pulling socks and tied it around me. I went to school, I was at Kwenda Mission, and instead of going to pay my fees in full, my friend had not paid fees for about two terms, so then I was like okay I can just tell my mum that part of the money got lost then I give you the money and we are sorted.
Everything else we would deal with.
So that is what we did, I gave her the fees and I went to pay half of my fees.
So now consultation day comes, my mum used to work at Adams so she actually come clad in her uniform because she was coming from some trip.
She gets there and they tell her Samantha hasn’t paid fees in full. I have never seen my mum so mad.
She was just like no I will talk to her when she comes back home.
When I came back home I got a thorough talk, but my mum whilst she was screaming at me said to me, when you gain capacity to do these acts of kindness I will gladly support you, but not on the tight budget that I have.
I am a single mum and I am trying to raise you the right way, and here you are, if you are on holiday it is either you are dishing out groceries to people or you are giving people your school fees.
So she said she could not keep up with it.
So we had our run-ins, it was not a good thing, but now she pats me on the back, but I think that is where it came from.
I think naturally I have wanted to fix problems even if they are bigger than me.
So I will try up until the point where I say I cannot do this anymore but I would have tried at least because in my head I am always worried about me or my children.
If I cannot get sadza today, can Trevor be able to say come let me dish one spoon in your lunchbox, or Sam let me give you $20 and Khyra can go to school.
So everything I do is not necessarily to get it back but I know that life is like a wheel, it is full of unexpected eventualities.
So one kind could be a million acts tomorrow for me possibly.
TN: I like what your mother said, Sam when you get capacity I will be able to help you, which I think is the normal way of thinking isn’t it?
- You help yourself first before you help others? But clearly you have not waited for yourself to get capacity? You have just been helping ever since?
SM: Yeah, and the amazing thing that I have noted is that the community is actually willing to chip in to help this drive go on.
I like capacity, I do not even have a bank balance that I can boast about and say look I have millions and I am helping people.
It is your neighbour, or that person who has compassion or who reads an article or who is going to watch In Conversation With Trevor that sits and says look I can spare $100 and give this organisation to do wonders with it.
Then we take that $100 where it normally feeds maybe 10 people, it will spread to 50 people.
I think that the lack of capacity has always been a draw back for many people, they say oh I cannot start this, I cannot do this because I do not have money, but sometimes you just need to use the will and the love as an input and I know along the way someone will believe in what you are doing because honestly why would I continue doing something like feeding people when I do not have money.
Yet I know in actual fact that we have communities that can chip in and bridge the gap between the poor and the rich and draw it a little bit closer.
This is exactly what has been happening with the trust, but on a small-scale obviously.
TN: The will and the love? I love that. That is beautiful. Use the will and the love to do what you can to help others.
- In the process, tell me where do you get your reward from?
SM: Growing up, my grandmother, my dad’s mother actually, used to tell us and say everything that you do is recorded in the book by God, by our ancestors, by angels and the universe.
That is how she said it in the vernacular.
She would say you might not get your reward today, you might actually get negative elements coming your way whilst you are doing good but know for a fact four or five years down the line or even 20 years I will get my big reward.
It could be in the form of good health, it could be breakthrough in a personal endeavour that I have, it could be my kids excelling and being offered an opportunity because their mom was part of a movement during Covid.
So for me, very fairy-tale like, but I actually believe in that, I believe the universe always rewards you one way or the other.
“In Conversation With Trevor” is a weekly show broadcast on YouTube.com//InConversationWithTrevor. Please get your free YouTube subscription to this channel. The conversations are sponsored by Nyaradzo Group.