walking in the city centre in Harare today I was deeply disturbed, But at the end of the experience my resolve was strengthened that I’m in VOF for a purpose. A young woman was sitting on the ground, she had run out of energy to walk and her son was sitting beside her. She was definitely a street woman as she was very dirty and I felt it was her condition which had made it impossible for her to bath.
She was looking very sick and her weak frame was shaking. She was as thin as a reed and I believe shaking from hunger and cold. But in her fragile hands she held a dirty orange which she gave to her son gradually. It was obvious that the orange might have been his only food in the last 24 hours and mother having had no other food decided not to eat but save the orange for him. She was delusional and almost hallucinating but she clung to her son who hovered lovingly over his mother, cajoling her, cuddling her and circling her playfully. She only slightly turned to look at him to make sure he didn’t go far but it was obvious the effort was draining her.
Two ladies and a gentleman were talking to her and she could hardly speak. Tearfully I watched as she struggled to piece together her dignity in front of the strangers. Her figure was covered in a tattered jersey in the chilly weather. I edged closer to listen, blinking back tears, I had seen poverty and heard about it but this was too much.
Men took advantage of her and raped her and I am not talking about mad men or street men but working class and business men who rape her give her money for a meal get into their cars and leave her as they go back to their families. Orphaned by AIDS herself, her child might also face the same fate. People had gathered and the women decided to take her home and then see what they could do. I felt elated and was praying profusely that they would not change their minds. at that moment I thought of all the street children and women and the children born in the streets who would only know the comfort of a card box instead of a blanket. As the women took the woman to their clean car, the mother struggled to walk but her face looked even younger, ppure relief was written on her face and happiness, she was just whipering her thanks and though difficult to see she had regained some energy: the other carried the dirty little child closely with warmth and love, I then briefly introduced myself and my work with WP and wanted to know where to find them to talk more and hear about the woman and her child’s story and situation. I thanked them for their hearts and what they had done never before had I seen such an act as people usually look at street people with disdain and dislike they are dirty etc. but here were people who had opened their hearts and door to a woman who might not have made it through the night on the pavement.
Tomorrow I am going to see the woman and her child but today I pray before you sleep, take a moment to think about the situation Zimbabweans are facing. With high unemployment, poverty, threats, corruption, HIV and AIDS people are suffering. What more of vulnerable groups like the women living in the streets, orphans and the disabled. With elections approaching all we can pray for is peace and that conditions change. Today remember the woman and her child and pray for her health so that she may continue to lovingly care for her child that she finds a means to get out of this situation and shelter love and protection. Pray for love, shelter and the great sisterhood that I saw today and an end to injustice and inhumanity.
I have seen the need for women’s economic empowerment and its importance in the future of their children. There is also need for education of everyone to respect each other and mothers teach should children especially sons to respect people no matter how vulnerable and to love. As I sleep my mind is in overdrive I may be powerless to stop the gross injustices in Zimbabwe but I will protest for the woman and her child and for the violation of all women worldwide.