Monday, February 9, 2009
But we really needed some help in the house so we could get our work done. So we started looking for some English-speaking people to help. And that's how we got acquainted with the ever-growing Zimbabwean population in Mozambique. Since English is the official language of Zimbabwe, there were lots of English-speaking people to find!
First came Ms. Rutendo. She was the expert at stacking stuff up neatly. No matter what it was - haphazard clothing, miscellaneous scraps of paper, kitchen goods - she could stack it up precisely and perfectly! And she would take me outside and rock me in my stroller as we chatted to all the people walking by our house.
Ms. Rutendo was just reaching the end of her teenage years. With no job prospects in Zimbabwe, she left her family and ventured to Mozambique. Like most Zimbabweans, much to most of her income went back home to family. Foreign currency, in this case Mozambican meticals, is pure gold in a country where the local currency loses half its value in one day.
Ms. Rutendo met her man and left us when cute little Wilma was on the way. Here they are on a visit with me!
Then came Ms. Cathrine! Ms. Cathrine had been in Mozambique for a while, having worked for a Zimbabwean embassy employee, when she came to join us. I loved Ms. Cathrine. I even called her "mommy" in Shona. She taught me lots of things, like how to count to 18 and what tigers say and how to scrub the floor and how to make mud soup and how to play nicely with my buddy Mavinga.
Ms. Cathrine also sent money home to her family. And when we decided we needed more help so Mommy could focus on her work while I started getting busier and busier, Ms. Cathrine's cousin, Ms. Precious, came from Zimbabwe to join us.
Ms. Precious left her husband and baby girl, just 2 months older than me, behind in Zimbabwe. Can you imagine having to choose between being with your baby and feeding your baby? I know I would miss my Mommy very much, and I wouldn't understand at all that she was leaving me just so I could have food to eat.
In a desperate venture to keep families, alive, there is a massive exodus of Zimbabweans into Mozambique and other neighboring countries: South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia. It's estimated that well over 3 million Zimbabweans have left their homeland.
Many, if not most, are illegal immigrants. They face the risk of deportation, imprisonment, and xenophobic acts. Yet their desire to feed their families outweighs the risks.