Day of the African Child 2018: Stories from Zimbabwe #1

Childline Zimbabwe made a follow-up visit to a family with eight children, none of whom were in school. It became apparent, though, that a number of other families living on the same farm also had children who were not in school, mainly because they were under the care of single mothers who were unemployed. Their fathers were either in jail or had gone to work in faraway places.

Three families were in the same situation, and their children were highly vulnerable due to poverty. Caregivers could not provide the children’s basic rights to birth registration and education, or their basic needs such as clothing, decent shelter or even decent food.

To address this at community level, three positive parenting sessions were held with the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) and the Victim Friendly Unit within the Zimbabwe Republic Police. A number of child protection issues were discussed in these sessions, for example children’s rights, responsibilities, ways of positive parenting and the legal implications of violating children’s rights. Together with DSW, Childline Zimbabwe made an assessment and both parties in one family agreed that there was a great need for assistance, particularly for the children.

This family had five children, all girls aged between 6 and 16. One of the girls was living with HIV/AIDS and was receiving anti-retroviral treatment. Physical assessment and observations indicated that the clients were wearing torn clothes, their hair was unkempt, and the children appeared not to have washed for days. It was noted that the children did not have birth certificates and, although they were old enough, were not going to school because the mother was not able to pay school fees.

Childline Zimbabwe, through its emergency budget, supported all five children in getting their birth records. Educational counselling was given to the caregiver on the importance of fulfilling children’s rights, and the risks and exposure to abuse when these rights were not met were also discussed. Counselling was also offered to the paternal grandmother to ensure that the support system available to the children was strengthened. All of these efforts were successful, and two weeks later the mother visited the drop-in centre to reveal that she had managed to raise 60 dollars towards the school fees. This was commended as a positive response to the sessions held on positive parenting and children’s rights discussions.

Sessions were also held with the children. The children had aspirations and were hoping that one day things would be better for their parents and they could all go back to school. Supportive counselling was provided to the children and general education on abuse and children’s rights. Thanks to the emergency fund, all five have been back in school since the start of the second 2018 school term.

Several cases have now been received as a result of the positive parenting sessions held. It has been really encouraging to see some of the parents who participated in the sessions accompanying some of these new referrals to the drop-in centre, which is more than 15 kilometers from their farm homesteads. Case follows-ups can be so very important: in this case they identified new and vulnerable clients.

 

(With thanks to the Gweru Drop-in Centre team and Daphne Jena)