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. 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!
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%). 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. The Zimstats Poverty Atlas states that in all districts, poverty levels ranged from 36.4% (Harare) -95.6% (Nkayi). Women, at least 52% of the population, 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.
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.
 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.
 Ditmore, M.H. (2011). Historical Guide to Controversial Issues In America: Prostitution and Sex Work. Greenwood: California.