sunshine city without a shine: the story of the woman
I had waited anxiously the whole day to go and see the woman who had helped the woman and her child and as I got closer to the woman’s address I was feeling frightnened and weak. I would soon be learning more about her situation and now I understand why we are taught about trauma. I had got home the previous evening and read the notes. I needed to deal; with the pain I had felt for her to be able to help and just think of solutions and not focus on my anger and disappointment in the system.
Here is the story of the woman, who as I learnt is called mai giant (mother of a big baby-giant). She was born 30 years ago on the 30th of January 1983. She was educated to grade seven and had to drop out of school to help in the family farm and also because there was no money for her to continue with schooling. Her parents had died when she was young and she had been raised by her grandmother, a poor woman who had just inherited seven orphans to car for without any idea where she would get the next meal to feed them with and she was the fifth child.
Mai giant was married at the age of 14 and left her rural home area of bikita in masvingo to stay in guruve another rural area with her husband. She was mother to three children the youngest who is the one she was staying with, she was HIV positive and had been sick for a long time and people had expected her death a long time back but it was her husband who succumbed to the disease in march of this year living her to fight and care for the children alone.
Due to her sickness she needed care but some weeks ago her condition had worsened and her sister in law had given her money for bus fare to Harare to go back to her people. She didn’t even have enough money to go to masvingo but she could not argue or prolong her stay in her husband’s village. She had to leave and all she had to show for all those years of marriage was a sack in which she had put her clothes (if they can be called such) and her numerous hospital records.
In Harare she had no relatives and had gone to the police to ask for a letter they used to issue to help people who were stranded and had no bus fare to get to their destinations using public transport without paying. Here her hope was crushed as the police where no longer issuing these letters and advised her to go to the radio stations so they could announce and have her relatives come forward to pick her. But which relative? her grandmother was in bikita and did not even own a radio and even if she did where she would get the money for bus fare. As she was leaving, the police realised that in her condition she could not go far so they took her to parirenyatwa hospital where she was admitted until last week. After being discharged the same problem faced her, hospital had been a heaven and she had pleaded with them to keep her a while longer but she was already on welfare so she had to go, but where. She had gone to the famous mbare musika (biggest bus terminus) where she was living with many other women and started begging. Someone had given her a loaf of bread and a drink with money here and there. She had come to town to beg and had expected to get enough money for bus fare but on the day we saw her she had not eaten and I believe skipping her antiretroviral treatment. She was also on treatment for TB.
After the woman had given mai giant some clothes and money, she took her to a police station where they told her mai giant could sleep at the station and catch the first bus to her home area. Mai giant refused and said she could not walk from the police station to the bus station where her clothes where in a cloakroom. The police asked the woman to bring the money in the morning and leave mai giant at her usual sleeping place. When she got there in the morning mai giant was gone. One of the women who knew mai giant and had been looking after her by sharing her food with her and bathing the baby said she had gone to masvingo the previous evening. She was afraid the woman would send her straight home and had said great hardships and poverty awaited her and she could not go empty handed so she would beg in masvingo and then go home. Her children were staying with her husband’s relatives.
As I left, I took her number to let me know if mai giant ever contacted her and I had many unanswered questions. What was the government doing about poverty, who was being helped by the ministry of social; welfare. Would the woman remain on TB and antiretroviral treatment, what about her child? It was obvious he had been conceived when she was already sick so why give birth. Was she even considering him in her decisions? And her two other children, what would happen to them. I contacted the ministry social welfare and there is protocol and bureaucratic processes before they talk to me but I will not rest for all the other women and their children still at mbare musika and all the streets in zimbabwe.
i still urge you all to keep praying for mai giant and her child. the future looks bleak and i am scared about her conditiion and the welfare of her baby. i cant blame her for running away all i can do is hope she is not abused, i also hope one day there will be shelter for all Zimbabweans and love, laughter and treatment for all and the eradication of poverty and hunger.