“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Martin Luther King, Jr

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Refugee Children of Zimbabwe

Williad Fire, 16, crossed illegally into South Africa from Zimbabwe with eight friends after the deaths of his parents and an uncle.
(Joao Silva for The New York Times )

We talk about Zimbabwe in terms of war, Mugabe being a despot. We hear and read horror stories of families killed in the fighting, the Cholera that threatens a nation.

But what of the children? Who is looking out for them? Does Africa not care that these children are future leaders, doctors, teachers that may one day do something great for this country? Do they care? Right now people are desperately trying to stay alive, foraging for food, not having clean water, or medicine to help them when they drink tainted water, having no home to call their own. Their farms have been taken and given to the elite while they have been driven out.

Children are the future of any country. They are the ones who will inherit our legacy, the ones who will live on in our image. They will grow to be great leaders, preachers, inspiring others in their lead. How do we expect to have this if we do not help those children now? The children of Zimbabwe are leaving the cities and living as outcast in places that see them as rivals for jobs that are already sparse. They have become accomplished beggars and take food where ever they can find it. They are solicited by adults, the girls sought for sex, some as young as 8 or 9 years old.

Desperate Zimbabweans are illegally crossing the frontier at the Limpopo River, according to the police, local officials and aid workers.Where is it best to enter the river? Where are the holes in the barbed fences beyond? Where do the soldiers patrol? Perhaps the greatest risk is the gumagumas - the swindlers, thieves and rapists who stalk the vulnerable as they wander in the bush.
The South African government issues temporary asylum papers to about 250 of these refugees a day, entitling them to six months without worry of deportation. Unaccompanied minors are ineligible for this status, though, leaving them in an odd limbo, with no specified place in the bureaucratic shuffle.
Georgina Matsaung runs a shelter for children at the Uniting Reformed Church. "You'll sometimes find boys sleeping in ditches and under bridges, but you won't find the girls," she said with a regretful shake of her head. "The girls get quickly taken by men who turn them into women."

This also effects adult women, looking for ways to feed the family they left behind.Leticia Shindi, a 39-year-old widow from the village of Madamombe, Chengetai Mapfuri, 29, left the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, just after Christmas, carrying her 20-month-old son, Willington,Aldah Mawuka, 17,  also from the Harare suburbs, are just a few of the women raped, beaten and robbed by gumagumas.

The world must stand up and say enough is enough. Robert Mugabe must be turned out. Contact the Red Cross or Oxfam, to help with donations. Go visit justapush and look through the lists of charities there. Write a letter to President Obama. Stop the senseless violence now.


Relax Max said...

Most people agree Magabe must go. What would you suggest as the means to do this?

ettarose said...

Max, nothing short of violence I think. He will not go peacefully. Although if things keep going the way they are with his troops, they may do the job for us.I wish I had the answer. I think he should have a visit with a bullet behind the ear. Is that wrong of me? Violence begets violence.


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