COMMENT: Authorities should intervene in the Nketa child-headed household

The Chronicle

RELEVANT authorities must intervene in the case of a Nketa Child-Headed Household (CHH) where a 10-year-old girl is looking after her two siblings aged three and seven.
We reported yesterday that the three children’s mother, a single parent, abandoned them in June and she is reported to have relocated to Southwold suburb where she moved in with a boyfriend.

This then forced the eldest child to be both mother and father to her two siblings
“I don’t remember the exact date when my mother left us, but it was in June. When she left us, she told me that she was going to the hospital and that was the last time we saw her until today,” said the girl, a Grade Three pupil at a local school.

“She only sends us groceries and occasionally talks to us through umalume’s phone’.’’
Neighbours said the person that the girl refers to as “uncle” is someone who occasionally comes to check on the children including delivering their groceries.

“Today my three-year-old younger brother is not feeling well. He has a terrible cough that is why I am carrying him on my back,” she said.
“I have been boiling lemon leaves for him so that so the cough can get better. My mother used to do this for me when I was still young.

Recently, my younger sister had a running stomach and we had to seek assistance from a woman who stays next door.”
The girl said she sometimes misses school to attend to her siblings whenever they fall sick.
“We do not want to live with any other person, except our mother. We wish she could either return home or come back and take us to where she lives, particularly now that we are heading towards the Christmas holiday when most people will be spending their time with their families,” she said.


According to Unicef, a Child-Headed Household (CHH) is a family unit in which the oldest person residing in the household is under the age of 18.
In a research paper titled, We Are On Our Own: Challenges Facing Child-Headed Household (CHH), A Case Of Seke Rural Area In Zimbabwe, Francisa Maushe and Jacob Mugumbate contend that African societies have been known for their strong family support systems that view children as society’s future and as an important fabric if humanity is to be perpetuating itself.

“In a normal Zimbabwean set-up, children were supposed to be catered for by adult members of their immediate family first and foremost. The extended family and to some extent the community were expected to be alternate carers. Now there is a new family set-up: the child-headed households (CHH),” reads the research paper.

“The research established that CHH faced immense difficulty in providing for their daily needs including food, education and clothing. They also lack psychosocial support such as guidance, love, belonging and protection. They note that while they were still loosely integrated into the extended family system, they were mostly on their own when it came to fending for the family.”

The 10-year-old girl should enjoy her childhood without the burden of playing mother to her siblings at such a tender age.
She and her siblings also deserve parental love and guidance and should never live the way they are doing all because their mother abandoned them to live with a boyfriend.

We, therefore, appeal to relevant authorities to intervene on this matter so that they get the best possible assistance.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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