Written by Charline Vuta; edited by Aja Stefanon
Charltan School Trust is deeply grateful to all who responded to the call for blanket and clothes donations for teen mothers in Hopley. More than 40 girls under the age of 17 came out to receive blankets and others goods. We are barely touching the surface of this problem and there seems to be no end. 40 girls, 40! And that's only those who were able to come out or who felt comfortable doing so. What I saw today broke me. We came with clothes, blankets, and birth kit hampers donated by RhonaFlo Foundation yet I felt like we walked in empty-handed.
The girls had been waiting for almost an hour before we arrived - hungry and desperate - I could see the looks on their faces. 14-year olds waited, wrapping their kids on their backs while some continuously rubbed on their children's tummies. We learned the eleven pregnant girls have to walk two hours to get access to maternity care and they shared they are then forced to wait for service until after the local residents. A 14-year old with twins stood by waiting for us provide a solution for her way forward and a 17-year old, married off while 14 from an Apostolic church, stood waiting to be given a place to stay with her two children. More than half of them did not possess birth certificates nor birth records for their children...yet they all want to go back to school. Miracles are needed.
I stood there asking myself what am i doing?? Our safe house can only accommodate 12 teen mothers at most; I am desperate to provide some solution for these girls. I felt unsure providing blankets and clothes really did anything at all.
This is not normal, it's not right; we can't stand in the same hospital queues with our babies and say we are doing enough. How do we as Zimbabweans ignore the plight of our future generation. How are we okay with this? Are we? Have we really reached the point of every man, woman, and child for themselves?! I'm asking for women, partners and organisation's willing to help us build a bigger safe house...a safe space in which the girls can regain their dignity and explore opportunities for their future and that of their children, a space which offers them support to get their identity documents and the medical care they need for themselves and their children, and at the most basic a space to get them fed and clothed out of a vulnerable environment.