With a friend I plan to go to Harare. We own 1 buck, so first we visit some acquaintances to buy money from them: we receive 2 dollar and will pay them 3 dollar back later. There is a cash crisis in Zimbabwe: people are queuing for hours to get a little bit of cash. So-called bond notes are used right now to alleviate the trouble. Last week the 5 dollar bond note was introduced. We borrow another 10 dollar from a compliant man in a shop. He is only giving us this precious cash so my friend will not be embarrassed in my presence.
For half a second we look each other right in the eyes. With a firm jerk he pulls my gold-filled necklace off my neck. Away is the street kid before I can say a word. This experience marks the start of my search for the identity of street children that live in a harsh reality.
Bread and love
A young kid is sitting on the doorstep at the exit of the shop. When I walk out, I give him two things: a bun and the words ndino kuda, ndino kuda*. His face clears up of happiness and surprise. The words come from the bottom of my heart and he believes them. In all cities of Zimbabwe there are many children living in the streets. It’s one of the saddest things in the world I can think of. I still don’t know much about these children, but I am determined to find out more about them.
Out of place
With a glass of wine in my hand and an empty stomach, I try to listen to the speech of the ambassador of Iran. He is opening an exhibition in the art gallery of Harare. Used as I am now to the life in Chitungwiza, I feel a little out of place among these richer people. A few moments later I am sitting on a bench in the Central Business District of Harare. The tall palm trees around us are blown by the wind and the city lights shine on our serious faces. Three boys that live in these streets tell me their life stories before they eat the hotdogs I bought them. One of them demonstrates me how to sleep on a piece of cardboard. What can I say?
There is two kind of chickens in Zimbabwe. ‘Roadrunners’ are resistant to diseases and find their own food, ‘broilers’ are weaker and need to be fed. People that can take care of themselves are referred to as roadrunners and spoiled people are called broilers.
Power to fight
Leaving the busy town behind we head for the rural areas with 40 little broiler chicks in the car. Our yellow treasure is peeping tirelessly on the way to their new home. Once we get further away from the main road, the sandy paths spread in all directions and form a huge maze. For today our goal is the currently popular concept of empowerment. IMBA is donating chicken, goats, rabbits and seeds to vulnerable families. With these gifts they can generate an income and pay the school fees and uniforms for the children.
Often the faucets in my house refuse to give me any water and then I switch to the buckets. Also light is not always available. Sometimes I am shocked with myself: I tend to think I have the right to have water, food, electricity and internet. But that is not true; everything we have is a gift and gifts should not be claimed. I guess I am a broiler with capacity to become a roadrunner.
*I love you, I love you.