A pitiable sight of a young girl aged around six to seven years, seated by the roadside, with a huge black bungle lying on her thighs caught my attention. The young girl was seated in an awkward area, in the middle of nowhere, a place not meant for anyone to rest as it was bare with not even a tree for shade. I saw her as I drove from Bulawayo to Harare on Christmas day.
I stopped. I got out of the car and called to the child who then told me that lying on her knees was her mother who was resting and they were going to proceed home once her mother had rested enough. I moved closer to them only to realise that her mother was already dead. I looked at the child who looked hungry and emaciated yet convinced and hopeful that they were going to proceed with their journey back home. What was not known to her was that her mother was dead. Dead by the roadside.
Tears streamed down my eyes as I pitied the child whose fate no one knew. I could not tell her that her mother was dead. I simply left and phoned the Bulawayo Central Police Station and reported the case. The response from the police officer I spoke to, Constable Phiri, shocked me. He told me that the station had no fuel to go and collect the body and suggested that I find a private funeral home to assist the child.
I was so upset and decided to leave the issue hoping that someone from close by would assist the child. This decision I made never put my heart to rest. The thoughts and picture of the little girl still haunt me. The scene reflected the level of the socio-economic crisis bedeviling Zimbabwe with children left to their own devices to deal with issues they can hardly fathom.