7 Zimbabwean Teens Living Under a Tree in S.A.

Even though Children’s Day is celebrated globally by almost 50 countries annually; celebrated on May 27 in Nigeria, children’s standard of living across Africa is still such that calls for attention.

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Children’s day as it was first proclaimed by the United Kingdom in 1954, was established to encourage all countries to institute a day, firstly to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children and secondly to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world’s children.

It is still widely reported that pupils and students in some part of Africa still take classes under trees, in an uncompleted or dilapidated building, many not in the line of education at all and many in a poor housing environment.

Latest report has it that Seven Zimbabwean teenagers have been found living under a big tree near Shoprite in Louis Trichardt, Limpopo, for almost a year, scavenging for food from a nearby skip.

The boys, aged 15 to 19, sleep under the tree on one torn mattress, sharing two blankets. They wake up at 6am and pack their blankets and clothes into a big white bag and hang it in the tree for safety. When it rains they move to the verandah of the nearby shops at night.

During the day they go out looking for work and food, begging from passers-by or picking up leftover food thrown into the municipal skip nearby. They have no plates or pots and do not cook.

They bath once or twice a week at a nearby stream and use the public toilets nearby.

Putting a brave face on, 19-year-old Classmore Tsiga said, “This municipal bin is our soup kitchen. No one has fallen sick from eating leftover food from the bin. God is great.”

“This place is convenient for us because toilets are near, the big municipal bin where people throw away leftover food is here, and a lot of people pass through this place. Some of them donate clothes or food,”

He did odd jobs in Beitbridge and managed to save money to get as far as Louis Trichardt. “My aim was to join my sister but it is taking time. I do not regularly get hired for work.”

 

“My aim is to raise money for school fees then I can go back to school, but it seems impossible,” says Sibanda.

John Tambire,17, from Masvingo decided to come to South Africa so as not to be a burden on his grandmother after his mother remarried. He saved R200 from odd jobs in Zimbabwe which he used for transport to Louis Trichardt.

“I was among the eight grandchildren under the care of this grandmother. I thought it wise to fend for myself,” says Tambire.


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