Zimbabwe Street Children Devise Survival Strategies

Zimbabwe Street Children Devise Survival Strategies
By Citizen Correspondent Nkululeko Sibanda , Harare
08/08/06

IT is a chilly Monday morning in central Harare and everyone is ducking in all directions and heading for various destinations.

Women with babies stripped on their backs are also part of the confusion that has seen the town turning into a hive of activity where everyone is busy minding their own business and only wishing to get to where they spend their day toiling for their families.

In that midst of confusion, one is bound to see a group of young boys, squatting in a corner and trying to keep themselves warm by putting up a fire from hordes of cardboard boxes they spend the whole day collecting from various parts of the former Sunshine city.

Still envying the attempts by these boys to keep cool, one’s attention shifts to the container being held by one member of the group who appears to be the ringleader of the group.

In that container is a liquid-like product that the boys sniff, and one wouldn’t fail guessing correctly that these boys might be sniffing glue from the container.

A few minutes later, the boys burst into fits of laughter and suddenly all of them are lying on their backs still locked in the fits of laughter.

The fit stage takes a good ten minutes and after that they pick themselves up and start walking into the city centre, and on their way, the street kids, or street adults as they have come to be known, give women and other people a torrid time.

They snatch foodstuffs and all kinds of bags where they believe they might find some money that they would use to buy food and their favourite product, glue.

Some of them are arrested in the process, as they would have snatched bags that have valuables including money.

There is also another group of street children who have developed a habit of getting money using “humane” means.

This is a group that moves around the city centre searching for plastic bottles that they later sell to one of the country’s reputable fizzy drinks manufacturing company.

According to a sales officer at the company, the manufacturing giant had at one time been hit by a serious shortage of bottles for its products and was rescued by the street kids who hobnobbed from one bin in the city centre to another in search of the plastic bottles.

“You are aware that there was a time when we were faced with shortages of almost everything. Raw materials used in the manufacture of drinks, plastic casing and containers among other things. We had to be rescued by the street kids who collected these bottles and later re-sold them to us. It was however difficult for us to disclose the place where we acquired these plastic bottles. We kept a tight lid on this issue and luckily, our customers did not even wonder where we got the containers from,” said one sales officer at the company.

According to the sales officer, one container now costs $1 under the new currency announced by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor, Gideon Gono. This translates to $1 000 in the old currency.

Given this amount, it is clear that the street kids are able to live a life that even those that are said to be occupying lodging accommodation might not be able to live.

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