A day in the life of a street kid

HARARE - Wondering up and down the streets of Harare with no place to call their home has become a lifestyle of homeless street kids.

They survive with little or no food in their bellies with no hope of what the future holds for them.

Being awakened by the morning breeze to go into the streets, guarding people’s vehicles, jostling for a few cents to buy food has become their daily activity.

Struggling to find a safe place to sleep and proper blankets has also become a major cause for concern for these homeless children as they resort to cardboards to warm their bodies.

Such is the life of street kids in Harare as well as other urban centres of the country.

The Daily News on Sunday visited the streets of Harare’s central business district and had a chat with some of these “homeless” children on how they were surviving this winter.

They said even though they were struggling and suffering, they are not worried about what comes along their way as long as they are alive.

A 12-year-old boy, Tatenda Makwirira who is suffering from cancer, said he sleeps in verandas of town buildings with little or no food.

Makwirira, who hails from Nembudziya in Gokwe, narrated the adventurous story of how he ended up living on the streets.

“I came here (Harare) with a bus called Pin Code,” he said.

“I just got in and sat and when the conductor asked for the ticket I showed him the wound and he left me,” said young Makwirira.

The boy said the he came to the city to seek assistance since he could not find help from Gokwe as both his parents are late.

Makwirira’s plans of returning to Gokwe after receiving treatment were shattered after he was chased away from the hospital where he was seeking medical attention.

“I went to seek help at a hospital but I was denied entry by a female guard who said that I should go home and get $5 for the card to get treated.

“I live on the verandas here in town and sometimes I sleep in a building at Mbare Musika, I have no permanent place to stay,” said the child. He said he received food from well-wishers and would pick some from bins when he is hungry and has adjusted to the weather conditions since he has been living on the streets for three years.

Many of these street children have run away from home because they were allegedly beaten or sexually abused by their guardians after their parents passed on.

Tragically, their homelessness has led to further abuse through exploitative child labour and prostitution.

Stanley Chikwakwa, originally from Kadoma, told the Daily News on Sunday that he came to the city in 2007 when he was 13 after his parents died.

He said the weather was too cold for him before asking for bus fare to return to the “city of gold”.

“I came to Harare after my parents died because when I was young I heard that there is a good life in Harare but now I am worse off,” Chikwakwa said.

“I sleep in an alley along Jason Moyo Avenue but now I have to take care of people’s cars to get money for food.

“If you give me money to go home you would have helped me brother because it is too cold here and I have no blankets and I want to go back home,” he said.

Some of these street children have become so brazen that they steal from people to fend for themselves while some have taken to drinking cheap illicit brews like Zed which they claim reduces stress.

Others survive through begging but the cold associated with winter is a huge problem as they sleep in the open.

Another street kid, who only identified himself as Martin, said he only needs to get drunk so that he does not think too much about the weather.

When he is drunk, Martin claims he does not care about whether it is cold or hot as long as he is surviving.

“I have sought shelter in an abandoned building in Magaba (Mbare) and I have no worry about the weather,” said Martin.

“All I need is money to buy beer so that I get drunk and won’t be feeling cold any more but if you can give me blankets that will be good because I use cardboards as blankets.

“All I need in life is beer and now I spend most of my time in beer halls begging for beer and everything will be fine.

“I came to Harare because everything good is found here and this is my home and I will not go anywhere even though the place I am staying at is not good,” he added.

The number of street kids in the city is growing with each day as seen by the ever growing number of children living on the streets of Harare which has become of major concern to Zimbabweans.

Comments (4)

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And some gentlemen are denying them an opportunity to life because nobody thinks of them,our social welfares are no longer functional,they are being abused by the greedy few,who are making a living already. life sometimes.Manje Daily News i want you to go kuma orphanages one day and you will see the other side of life.I once visited one where children there were telling me their life stories,how they were dumped as infants and it pains to see mwana akura kudaro achikuudza kuti i dont even know my parents,not even my birth place and birthday.People we need to do more THAN ENRICHING OUR LIVES AND POCKETS.

shona - 25 May 2014

I dont think it is fair to call these innocent children "Street Kids". Why not use lighter terms that can give these children the respect and dignity they deserve as human beings. Terms like "Children living the streets", would rather indicate that they live and survive in the streets through other generous and wellwishers' kind hearts

Onai Timba - 30 May 2014

Indeed am touched a lot.Surely try to use a generous name such as the one suggested by Onai. But I am begging you daily news to take these kids to phd ministries or Ufic for help and salvation.Please it does not help us kuwanikwa ndichidya food yakanaka while outside there somebody is sleeping on an empty stomach,oh lord,have mercy kani.Will they survive this winter these kids?Only you Lord know what the future holds for these innocent souls.

josefa chinotimba - 15 June 2014

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