Module 3 Assignment: LIAR

GetRude
Posted March 16, 2016 from Zimbabwe

In the quiet silence, her thoughts scream the loudest. She tries to make ends meet, but every dollar she earns, has a little parallel cost waiting to swallow it up. Her daughter needs diapers, needs to eat well and very soon Charlene should be considering pre-school for her toddler. The cost of living is going up every second, literally. She read somewhere it was currently estimated at US $633.49 per- person, excluding rentals[1]. Each passing day left her wondering if she would make it through? Each day Charlene rushes to work, hoping to make it on time. The 2015 amended labour laws were very severe on the worker. She reminisces on how one can easily get sacked without due compensation awarded. According to a local paper, at least 55,443 people lost their jobs, in 2015 alone. Charlene needed to make sure she would make it to work, that her paltry salary would take them through the month; after all half a loaf was better than nothing. In her case, a slice could not begin to account for this loaf. On the day she discovered she was pregnant, Charlene remembers distinctly rubbing her belly and promising her unborn child that; even though her father had abandoned them, Charlene would take care of her at any cost. Now with the general lack they were, facing, she was not sure anymore. She felt like a liar!

The statistics

Despite the surprisingly limited number of statistics on single motherhood in Zimbabwe, many articles have been written about the phenomena. What sticks out as a sore thorn, is the abject poverty that many sole mothers and their children live in. Dlamini (2006) reveals the following statistics as percentages of children living with their mothers alone: South Africa (34.4%), Namibia (27.3%) and Zimbabwe (26.3%)[2]. These statistics have risen significantly ever since. Ditmore (2011) divulges that approximately 70% of female prostitutes in Zimbabwe, are single mothers struggling to support their children[3]. The Zimstats Poverty Atlas[4] states that in all districts, poverty levels ranged from 36.4% (Harare) -95.6% (Nkayi). Women, at least 52% of the population[5], are living in poverty in Zimbabwe. Again there are no statistics separating the single mothers as a vulnerable population, which underscores the level of importance given to this group of people. The Zimbabwean government’s “one basket” approach in dealing with women’s issues, limits the ability of sole mothers to swim across and survive the multiple challenges they face that lead to economic disempowerment. This is in the face of limited or no support from male family members.

The day breezes past, as if Charlene is in a trance. She has been very distracted knowing that she has to work the streets later that tonight. She can never get over the fact that she lets enough men each night violate her body, for negligible sums. Just yesterday, after waiting in the freezing cold for at least two hours, she got picked up for an all-nighter, which did not end pleasantly. The stocky built, fierce looking man refused to use protection; he hit her and verbally insulted her, like she was the lowest scum on earth. In fact maybe she would have to go and get tested, just to be in the clear. She grabs her bag and heads for the exit. She could do with a break, but no one would look after her little girl if she went away.

Solutions

As she walks towards the bus stop, she remembers the Facebook group one of her virtual friends started the previous week. The group is for single mothers like her, and the pinned post spoke to what the group was about, a place where “we can support each other as single mothers”. Her face-book friend was right to start the group in a way, a proverb said, “A problem is best solved when the one wearing the shoes is asked where it pinches”. Charlene felt they were the best people to communally solve their own challenges. It was a starting point. She was keen and she would make time for the very first meeting that they were to have. She also guessed it was an ideal time to start saving for the December mother and child get together that had been discussed on that group. She wonders if this was going to be one of those assemblies that would introduce a money savings club for all the women involved. That would surely take some of her trials away. A commuter bus conductor, with half his body outside a side window speeding towards Charlene pushes her away from her thoughts, as he shouts “town, town”. She sticks her hand out, willing it stop. It does and she gets in- bracing for yet another long night. Maybe someday she could erase this tag “liar” that haunted her every minute she failed to meet her daughter’s needs, and every time she left the sleeping child to work the streets.

[1] http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/city_result.jsp?country=Zimbabwe&ci...

[2] Dlamini, N. (2006). Measurement and Characteristics of Single Mother in South Africa: An Analysis Using 2002 General Household Survey. Unpublished Thesis, University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Pages 1-154.

[3] Ditmore, M.H. (2011). Historical Guide to Controversial Issues In America: Prostitution and Sex Work. Greenwood: California.

[4] http://www.zimstat.co.zw/sites/default/files/img/Poverty_Atlas.pdf

[5] http://www.zimstat.co.zw/sites/default/files/img/publications/Gender/Rep...

Comments 8

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ARREY- ECHI
Mar 18, 2016
Mar 18, 2016

Hauntingly tells the perils and trials single mothers face in an attempt to make life better for their offspring. It also highlights what pushes many to do what they do and how depression can easily set in as in the case of Charlene considering herself a liar. The struggle is real. Nice write up, Getrude.

Patty Mac
Mar 19, 2016
Mar 19, 2016

Dear Gertrude,

This is such a powerful piece, telling the story of how Charlene lives every day feeling like a liar as she works to provide for her daughter and honor the promise she made to her unborn child years ago. I am struck by the statistics that show how the employment and economic stresses facing Zimabwaens is real, especially for single moms. The pressure to provide for their children, along with the stigma attached to being a single mom, can lead to decisions that only perpetuate the feeling of being "less than" or a liar, in the case of Charlene. It's part of the vicious cycle many of us feel sucked into.

I envision Charlene gathered in a supportive circle of fellow single mothers- enveloped in light and love from others who have walked a mile in her shoes. Together we are better! We do not have to walk this journey alone.

Thanks for sharing Charlene's story with us.

Patty

GetRude
Mar 30, 2016
Mar 30, 2016

Patricia, thank you for the kind words and never ending support from our skype meetings and chats. It has been an interesting journey of self discovery and finding a basic insight on how women like Charlene can be helped. I find inspiration in your kinds words and let me take this opportunity to thank you again for the time you dedicate to mentoring me and helping put some things into perspective. It has not been an easy road and i have just been thinking that i hope that the love and concern you share for me can be remotely replicated for women like Charlene

THanks again 

GetRude

Terry Shiundu
Mar 24, 2016
Mar 24, 2016

Hi GetRude,

You're an excellent writer and i like the way you bring in the statitics to give a clear picture of how far the situation has gotten to and how the economic aspect ties in with the social. Charlenes story continues with a new twist, the need to earn extra income to be able to fulfil the promise she gave to her daughter that she will always provide for her. This story represents many other women like Charlene, the women she has connected with, with the hope of a better future for herself and her child.

I'm interested to hear more about solutions that would be of help to the community to help change the situation for so many women who are in the same dilemna. How can we ensure a better future for single mothers?

Thank you and all the best as you continue in this journey!

Terry

GetRude
Mar 30, 2016
Mar 30, 2016

Terry I sincerely hope that my dream to work around sharing my own experiences, mentorship and self empowerment skills training will be worth a shot to get some of these women off the streets, It is saddening to know that many young people are taking the easiest, yet possible most dangerous path to survival in this economy. Thank you for your kind words

Regards Getrude

Sherna Alexander Benjamin
Mar 30, 2016
Mar 30, 2016

Hello GetRude,

This post moved me and I am really in shock at the high statistics which you have cited here, what solutions are in being put together to help single women in your country, what are you doing to let your voice be heard and as a community what can we do to support your voice.

A single mother in poverty who has no way out often lives in the sadness of her own mind while trying to get out, this often causes many young women to make some unhealthy life choices.

GetRude
Mar 30, 2016
Mar 30, 2016

Hi Sherna With the way there have been a lot more happening in my country, $15 billion diamond revenue supposedly gone missing, monstrous labour laws, high unemployment rates, Single mums are not on the government's priority list. In fact we are bunched up with all the other women with little or no regard as to what our special needs are as a vulnerable population. This training has taught me a lot and i hope i can start making the right noise to turn attention to the situation of single mums. Thank you for taking time to post on mine.

REgards GetRude

GetRude
Mar 30, 2016
Mar 30, 2016

Dear Arrey, thank you for your support in the many posts and write ups i have been making. i appreciate the support very much.

All the best in your work 

GetRude