Local charity organisations have come to the rescue of about 100 National University of Science and Technology (Nust) students who were in dire need of food after they failed to travel back to their homes when the institution closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organisation of Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP), Eat Out Movement and Feed The City came together distribute food parcels to the students.
In an interview with CITE, NUST Students Representative Council president Innocent Dombo said some of the students are stranded and are desperate to go home.
“At the moment 150 students are still around in Selborne Park but their situations are different some of them are okay as their parents are supporting them but some of them want to go home despite the fact that they are food insecure they just want to go home,” said Dombo.
“Over 100 students need food assistance.”
Dombo added that the university reached out to the landlords where the stranded students are staying to reach a compromise since most of them were in a bad financial situation.
“Other students do not have money to go back home and we have reached out to landlords who are staying with some of our students through our division of student affairs. We would like to thank our Landlords, most of them are sharing meals with the students and some have been not been demanding rentals, so that has helped us a lot,” he said
He added that the student union has been trying to negotiate with the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) to ferry some of the students to their homes.
“We have since created a register to check on the number of students who would need transport. We reached out to ZUPCO company yesterday, and they were still trying to clarify whether they are cleared to travel long distances, there are a number of other things which still need verification from their end before they can commit to offering transport to the students,” he said.
“We have tried to make the process of getting a pass very easy but the challenge is that police stations are also having a number of cases requesting travel passes but what we have done through our NUST office is that we have written to them and gave them a list of students who will be approaching them, we are yet to see how that will work,” said SRC President.
Meanwhile, Nust Acting Director of Communication and Marketing Thabani Mpofu said while the university had long released the students to return to their homes some of them remained behind and were affected by the national lockdown.
“The position of the University is that we closed for an early semester break and we encouraged all our students to go back home to their parents and guardians. We didn’t expect that some of our students will remain behind.
“Some students remained behind but that was not the arrangement between students and the University however, our director of Compass life and residence got in touch with landlords just to enquire on how many of our students decided to stay behind, so it was through that, that we realized that there were some of our students who didn’t go back to their parents,” said Mpofu.
“But also realising that students might be running out of food, through the SRC we contacted donors so that they can assist with whatever they can, so this is what we have done as a University,” said Mpofu.