Fowl run wid­ows share tales of hor­rific poverty

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Feature/national News -

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

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