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» » » Widow, two sons with disabilities, three others share leaky hut

Pamela Jiri outside the hut with the two children

…16-year-old daughter impregnated for piece jobs, gets dumped

…Pamela Jiri initiative mobilizes for vulnerable family

Clayton Shereni

CHIVI - With rains pounding daily in the mountainous area of Dimbiti, under Chief Shindi, a family of six crowds every day and night in a leaky grass-thatched hut which they call home and the only place they have known for the better part of their lives.

The rooftop which has been rethatched countless times is giving the family all sorts of problems during this rainy season and they have given up on mending it. The last time they tried to do so, other villagers’ cattle feasted on the thatch while they were out looking for piece jobs.

The hut, which is used as both kitchen and bedroom for Senzeni Makuleke and her four children and one granddaughter, is cracking and can give in at any moment given the adverse weather conditions.

On approaching the home, one begins to sense grinding poverty all over.

The crops on their small piece of land which they till for subsistence is this year a write off due to excessive rains and, more often than not, the family has to go out to find piece jobs for survival.

On one such piece job search in 2020, Makuleke’s daughter Sharai Matowe was taken advantage of by a village delinquent who impregnated the then 16-year-old girl and disappeared soon afterwards, leaving her to face more hardship as a teenage mother.

“I don’t know where he went but some people tell me he is now in South Africa. He has never contacted me with regards to my welfare when I was pregnant. He has also not supported the child in any way,” Sharai told TellZim.

In 2018, Makuleke became widowed when her husband Jimson Matowe drowned while fishing in a flooded Musaverema River.

This left her with all the responsibility over the four children including two sons with serious physical disabilities.

The disabled children cannot walk, talk or do anything for themselves without help.

The two sons; firstborn Maxwell (21) and Laiton Matowe (8) are living with a rare condition which makes them unable to speak and walk.

They have to crawl if they want to move around; and they cannot go to the toilet on their own, meaning they need constant care and cleaning whenever they soil themselves.

However, the children often lack such care and cleaning because the able-bodied adult members of the family are often out looking for means to survive, leaving the disabled children under the care of minor sister who is 10-year-old.

 “I often have to leave my two physically-challenged sons here alone when I go to find some menial jobs to help us survive. We are suffering a lot and this has always been our life although things got worse when my husband died in 2018.

“We hope that we will one day be able to find help to build a proper house and that my two sons will live under better conditions,” said Makuleke.

Traditional leaders in the area are aware of this family’s problems and are pinning their hopes on the government and well-wishers for assistance.

Chief Shindi, born Mudumbwi Muperi, said the family faced more misery this year going forward because their crops were largely a write-off due to excessive rainfall.

 “There are many problems in my area and due to incessant rains, it is going to be difficult for many families including the Matowe family whose crops were affected. I am not happy with what I see at this homestead and I appeal to government and well-wishers to help this family have a proper home and sustainable livelihood,” said Chief Shindi.

The family recently got a small reprieve when Pamela Jiri of the Pamela Jiri Initiative, visited the family and donated some food stuffs, clothes and a blanket.

The last born daughter to the late renowned philanthropist Jairos Jiri, Pamela had come to know about Makuleke’s family through people who knew their misery.

Jiri, who is following her late iconic father’s footsteps in charity work, said she was moved by the sad  situation at the homestead and called upon the corporate world to help this family.

“I heard of this family and I thought about what my father would have done to help this family whose living conditions are dire. Their living conditions make them more vulnerable to Covid-19 as well as any other infectious disease you can come to think of than any other average family.

“This is a critical situation and I had to find a few stuff for them but it is not enough. We hope even the corporate world will come aboard to help the Matowe family,” said Jiri.

Jiri also donated food hampers and clothes to six other People with Disabilities (PWDs) in the area. 

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