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Diaspora “Orphans,” A Cause For Concern In Chipinge

By Artwell Sithole

SUSAN Simango (not her really name) is a fourteen year old girl, brilliant and well behaved; always passionate about her education and wished to become the first pilot in her family and the whole village.

She wakes up early every Monday to Friday during the school term to prepare porridge for herself and her two siblings. She assists them to bath, start a six kilometre walk to high school. Susan’s parents are in South Africa and she is the one in charge of the house and taking care of her siblings.

The parents ensured that they send foodstuffs and clothing. The routine, parents only come in December towards Christmas and go back early January but in some instances they take two to three years without coming home citing economic hardships.

The whole period when the parents are outside the country, Susan is in charge of the household and the upbringing of her siblings. Sometimes her grandmother who stays in the next village visits them for routine checks. Susan’s family isn’t the only one that migrated to South Africa, they are many in her village that have left kids on their own and the fortunate ones will be left with a maid to take care of them.

After learning that Susan is heading a family, a pirate taxi (mushika-shika) driver started to lure her to get free rides so she can save herself from the horrors of the long trips. Susan finds the gesture welcome especially during bad weather days, and it became a daily routine.

One of the Fridays, the driver took Susan to his homestead and they had unprotected sex. Susan spent nights with the driver, later became pregnant then he disappeared from his house and the route he used to ply.

The issue of Diaspora “orphans” is a case of concern in Chipinge district where most families have migrated to South Africa in search of greener pastures leaving children behind either alone or with maids and relatives. In most cases the maids won’t have much control over the children leading to deliquance behaviour.

Most of the kids left alone or in the custody of maids are involved in drugs and substance abuse. Platform for Youth and Community Development Gender and Wellness Officer, Cynthia Gwenzi, pointed out that cases of teen pregnancies, drug and substance abuse are linked to these Diaspora orphans.

“The children who are left alone at home without anyone monitoring them are engaging in sexual activities, drug and substance abuse.  Most cases of teen pregnancies my desk has received are linked to these Diaspora ‘orphans’,” she lamented

In Munyamana village, the village head has called the community to order and denounced families that migrate and leave children alone at home without any elderly person monitoring and controlling them

“Our village head is a visionary man; he called the community and denounced parents from leaving their children at home alone when they are in South Africa. He said anyone who doesn’t take heed of this will be fined” said Mr Chinyoka.