Fowl run widows share tales of horrific poverty
Ms Nkomo said they move from plot to plot in Woodville washing clothes of the landlords and they are given $5 at most for the services they offer. She said the money is not enough to buy food for their families let alone for rentals.
The widows’ children are dusty; they sit next to their mothers looking very sad.
Ms Nkomo said: “Life is hard for our children too. If we don’t get any piece jobs it means they will have nothing to eat. We can go for three days without eating anything. Children fail to go to school because they will be hungry. Even if they go to school, they’re always sent back home as they won’t have paid their fees,”
She says the children go to school without uniforms and their clothes are usually dirty as they are washed without soap. She said at times the children fail to attend lessons at school as they will be hunting for birds in the forest.
Ms Nkomo said: “The children go hunting for birds instead of going to school because they cannot go to school on empty stomachs. The school is about four kilometres away and some of the kids are too young to make it all day on empty stomachs.
“We are indebted to Woodville Primary School where our children learn.
“Our children just do their education up to Grade Seven. There is no secondary school in Woodville. The nearest is a private one, Eastview High at Mahatshula, but we cannot afford the fees at $600 a term. Northlea High School is three hours walk away but the school fees are also a challenge to us. So, after Grade Seven our children become school leavers,” said Ms Nkomo.
Another widow who also stays in the fowl run, Ms Bongani Moyo, said they had no running water nearby so they use rusty borehole water.
“We use borehole water. The borehole is rusty and the water has red particles in it. Children always suffer from running stomach because of the filthy water. I wish we could get clean water somewhere but neighbours always say we should get water where we are paying rent. Our landlord locks his gate so we don’t fetch tap water from his house,” said Ms Moyo
Woodville has no clinic; the sick go to town while others go to one in North End.
Ms Moyo said when the children suffer from running stomach they just make salt and sugar solutions. She says they hardly have money to take the children to hospital and on foot the journey to North End is a three-hour journey.
“If you decide to walk to North End that will take six hours to and fro or even more if you bring children along. When you get to the clinic, you have to pay for the nurses to give you medication. Going there becomes useless if you have no money. We watch our children when they are sick and pray that they don’t die,” said Ms Moyo.
“Sanitation is a matter of concern here. We have no toilets at Matika. We used to have Blair toilets but they are no longer used because they are now full. Now we use the bush. Our condition is not at all easy,” she said.
“Food relief programmes come to Woodville but we never benefit from them. They say they give the food to old women and men. When we tell them we are also widows they say we are young and should get jobs. Jobs are nowhere to be found. We have hunted for them for long but there are no jobs,” said Ms Nkomo.
She said they always prayed that they would get help and fortunately God answered their prayers.
“We have managed to get some help through Mthwakazi Affairs Organisation. The organisation has leased land for us here in Woodville and we will be doing different projects,” said Ms Nkomo.
Mr Ernest Ncube, the Director of Mthwakazi Affairs, said his organisation has committed to helping the Matika ladies by introducing projects that they can do to eke out a living.
“Mthwakazi Affairs has already started helping the Matika widows. We leased six acres of land at Woodville and the widows have already started to clear the land in preparation for the projects. I have managed to partner with Choppies which agreed to offer broiler chicks for the project. The women will also plough the other part of the land and plant different crops which they will sell,” said Mr Ncube.
He said he leased the land for 10 years and hopes in that time the women will be better placed in life.
Mr Ncube said: “Mthwakazi Affairs has no funders, therefore it is a challenge getting equipment to build fowl runs for the chicken project to begin. The widows are also having a challenge clearing the land as they will be hungry. As much as we, as an organisation are helping, the women still need more help,” said Mr Ncube. — @cchikayi.
Some of the widows who live in the Woodville fowl runs that have been turned into homes