Radio Netherlands Worldwide

SSO Login

More login possibilities:

Close
  • Facebook
  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • Google
  • LinkedIn
Home
Friday 24 October  
Street kid in Harare
Map
Harare, Zimbabwe
Harare, Zimbabwe

Family planning for Harare's street children

Published on : 27 December 2012 - 10:26am | By RNW Africa Desk (Photo: Flickr/Sokwanele - Zimbabwe)
More about:

Information about sexual and reproductive health is hard to come by for Zimbabwean adolescents who live on the streets. While some of these youth do practise birth control, mostly in the form of oral contraception, they still often lack other essential information or the basic life skills to access it. Concerned groups in Harare are trying to change that.

By Moses Chibaya, Harare

Sixteen-year-old Chipo Manenga and her friends don’t know the names of the contraceptives they take. But they do know that if pregnancy is to be prevented, the pills that come in rolls are the ones they are supposed to buy.

“I take family-planning pills but, because I am not educated, I can’t read,” Chipo says. Dressed in tattered clothes and living on the streets, she is already struggling to look after her two children. Her firstborn, Tapiwa, is two years old; Tadiwanashe is a year and a month. “I know that family-planning tablets prevent unwanted pregnancies. I buy the pills at Mbare Msika,” adds the young mother, referring to a local agro-produce market.

According to a recent survey conducted in Harare and Chitungwiza, there are about 705 children and young people living on the streets. The sexually active among them represent an especially vulnerable group.

Respecting rights
Winidzai Rwaendipi, a child protection officer working for Cesvi, a local non-governmental organisation, emphasizes the need to respect street children's rights. “If they want to engage in family-planning, then we respect their choices. We also provide condoms for free,” she says.

But among most street children, condoms gets dropped soon after boyfriends are considered stable and reliable. Yet, males are more prone to having multiple sexual partners than their non-street counterparts. Males are also more likely to engage in risky sexual activities.

Take Tawanda who admits to having unprotected sex with his partner. He also confirms that she is not using birth control pills. “Using condoms is abortion”, he says. “It’s like masturbation. You will be killing. God does not want anyone who kills.”

The future
What, then, can be done to ensure a better future for Zimbabwe's sexually active street children?

“Sexual and reproductive health rights need to be integrated in an approach that takes care of the other needs of street children pertaining to livelihoods and security,” says SAfAIDS programme manager Juliet Mukaronda. Her Harare-based organisation is implementing a three-year programme meant to do just that.

Chitiga Mbanje, a peer project coordinator at the NGO Streets Ahead, describes how his organisation aims to assist youth living and working on the streets 'to find their way back home', a phrase used both figuratively and literally. Youngsters who don’t know their relatives can get surrogate help. Others can be counselled to try to solve problems that caused them to run away in the first place, and then successfully reengage them with their family members.

Mbanje also optimistically cites the Ministry of Health’s national adolescent sexual reproductive health strategy. Referring to the Zimbabwe National Family Council centre and clinic for youth living on the streets, he notes: “It has been so effective to the point that young boys and girls can now openly go there without fear."

Discussion

Post new comment

Please be reminded all comments must be in English, short and to the point - guideline 250 words. Abusive and inappropriate comments will be removed.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

RNW on Facebook

RNW Player

Video highlights

Ladies on the move
RNW is keen on featuring inspiring women in our target countries, women who...
What about men?
In many countries, men don't stick around to raise their children. This is...