A Cry For Help

NYDT with the help of more than twenty residents took up the task of cleaning up the community this weekend at the Sidojiwe Hostels in Sizinda. This was after an outcry from the residents over the filth that was stifling healthy living conditions in the already less than habitable surroundings.

The hostels which were constructed in the colonial era are now serving more than their purpose which was to house African male workers who were expected to return to their rural homes and families every weekend. However, over the years the serious backlog in the Bulawayo City Council’s housing waiting list has forced whole families to move into these hostels which have inadequate sanitary facilities. Currently the three blocks of hostels houses close to 500 people most of whom are children aged between 2 – 8 years.

The clean up was organized by the Youth Councilor for ward 6, Ms Estinah Nyoni and was supported by the local (ward 6) Bulawayo City Councilor, Jennifer Bent who chipped in with the cleaning equipment and also delivered a motivational speech on the importance of community hygiene and the need for youths to do more to develop their communities. Bent paid tribute to NYDT for taking time to involve itself in issues of community rehabilitation.

The name Sidojiwe (Which means to have been picked up from the streets or the refuse bin) in itself tells a story of the neglect and rejection of these sons and daughters of Zimbabwe, most of whom are victims of operation Murambatsvina. To them cleanliness is the least of their worries as unemployment is critically high and most of the youths in the area cannot afford to go to school. Most families are headed by old women looking after their grandchildren whose parents have either since left for South Africa or have died from HIV/AIDS related illnesses.

For the younger children there is a crèche which is ill equipped for elementary education and is run by a resident of the hostels who is also not qualified for the job. She charges R10 (ten rands) per month per child, a sum some struggle to raise. The threat of malaria and other water borne diseases is very real to these children who play in poodles of water from burst pipes every day, fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes. Malnutrition is also rife as many families struggle to source even the most basic diet of isitshwala (Maize meal) and green vegetables.

The hostels are very dark inside, even at twelve noon, and this is made worse by the black walls covered by soot from the fires that light and cook their modest meals everyday because electricity supply is erratic in this place. Vandalism is also rife and most electricity points have been destroyed. The atmosphere is generally very gloomy and has led to a culture of low self esteem amongst the residents who feel they are not human enough to live in better conditions.

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