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Zimbabwe street children write about life on the streets of Harare
Taurai Maduna, Kubatana.net
May 17, 2006

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Hope & better future is what the children fromt eh streets of Harare are looking for
Hope and a better future is what the children from the streets of Harare are looking for

15-year-old Brian Koshoti is one of the hundreds of street children that live and work on the streets of Harare. Brian grew up in Mutare but when his parents died he moved in with his grandparents. Tragedy struck again when his grandmother passed away. Meanwhile as young Brian mourned the death of his grandmother, his grandfather married a young woman who had 3 children.

Brian said his new Ďgrandmotherí was mischievous, uncaring and selfish towards him. One day while his grandfather was away attending a funeral, Brianís grandmother sexually abused him. But when his grandfather returned, she told him that Brian had raped her. On hearing this, Brian was severely beaten by his grandfather. He said, "I had scars all over my body and I ran away from home." For the past five years Brian has been living on the streets but he needs help.

Street children get together to rehearse a drama play in the Streets Ahead drop in centre
Street children get together to rehearse a play at the Streets Ahead drop-in centre

Brianís sad story is one of many in the book entitled A Zimbabwean Street Story edited and compiled by Valentine Makope a former street child. Valentine says the book was written for street children all over the world. "It was written to help people from all walks of life understand that street children are not vagrants or enemies but rather that they are human beings who deserve to be treated kindly and with respect."

According to Valentine the main purpose of the book is to ask, "What can ordinary citizens do to change the lives of street children?"

A Zimbabwean Street Story was sponsored by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Harare together with the German Agro Action and UN Volunteers. It includes personal testimonies from street children abour where they sleep, sex in the streets, bullying and what life is like on the street for girls.

Also included is a section called "How Other People See Us". The stories in this section were written by members of the Scripture Union Group of Trust Academy, a college located near the Streets Ahead Drop-in Centre. Streets Ahead is a registered welfare organisation that assists underprivileged children and youths aged between 6 and 20 years old who are living on the streets of Harare.

Chris Makufa, Streets Ahead director takes time to speak with the children at the drop in centre
Chris Makufa, Streets Ahead director takes time to speak with the children at the drop-in centre

Chris Makufa, the Director for Streets Ahead said his organisationís main objective is to rehabilitate the children and reunite them with their families. He added that because this process can often take a long time the children have access to the drop in centre where they bath, eat and also learn various activities that include drama, music and soccer. listen to audio file

When asked why the children are on the streets, Mr Makufa said most of the children experience problems at home. "It is either because of HIV/AIDS, or because both parents are dead and there is no one to look after them. So they use the streets to scrounge a living for themselves, " said Mr Makufa. He added that many of the children are on the streets because of poverty.
listen to audio file

Mr Makufa said the children are benefiting greatly from the drop in centre. "When they come to Streets Ahead we offer them love, care, concern and a listening ear" listen to audio file

In 2005 Streets Ahead managed to reunite 140 children with their families and they are currently paying school fees and buying uniforms for 200 children in schools. These children are no longer in the streets.

If you would like to buy a copy of A Zimbabwean Street Story and in so doing help Streets Ahead, please email streetsahead@zol.co.zw

Visit the Kubatana.net fact sheet


Audio File

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