Life of a rural girl in Zimbabwe
By Richard Nyamanhindi
October 2013 - In commemorating the second edition of the International Day of the Girl Child – I talked to Silibaziso Munkuli*, aged 17 of Manjolo Village in Binga to understand some of the challenges she faces on a day-to-day basis and her aspirations. Below is the excerpt.
“It is quite unfortunate that many of the problems faced by girls in rural areas are different from those experienced in urban areas and many people take a number of issues for granted.
How many people for example, ever think about the possibility of girls lacking sanitary pads and improvising with banana leaves? There are some girls in my community, oblivious to hygiene concerns, who utilize old pieces of cloth that they reuse regularly after washing.
This happens quite often in places in and around my village, with many of us just accepting that this is the life we have. As a result many of the girls in my community have over the years been forced to leave school prematurely as they reach puberty stage.
In my district, which is predominantly rural and poor, it is common knowledge that in primary school, girls outnumber boys in class. However, the trend changes drastically in secondary school especially after Form Three with a sizeable number of girls leaving partly due to a number of reasons that include early marriages, the onset of menstruation and shortage of school fees among others.
I know a lot of girls who have been easily convinced to become wives of men who provide them with money for sanitary pads that their poor parents cannot afford.
The other challenge that we face as girls is that of getting clean water within our community. In the dry season in particular we wake up at 4a.m. in order to fetch water before we go to school. The well that we get water for drinking and cooking is 6 kms away; imagine walking that distance everyday with a 20-litre bucket on your head? We share our unprotected water source with animals and we are lucky that no one has died yet in my village – but the cases of diarrheal diseases has been on the increase in the past months.
I want to be a nurse when I finish school but I face a lot of challenges such as the distance that I have to walk to school everyday of my life. The nearest school is 7kms away. So everyday I have to walk a total of 14kms to school in addition to the distance I travel to fetch water. Sometimes I just feel like quitting – but when I see the situation that some of my friends who have done so are in, I then decide against it. The other reason why I have not left school is because of my family that struggles to put a meal on the table everyday – I really want to be a change factor, and I know education is the answer.
*Not her real name