Peasant Autonomy
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Story 147

A village in Zimbabwe – 1996

Foster children

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Wendy Lefkowich)


“Ozias, come and sit with me.” The heavyset Ozias very clearly doesn't like this request. He is busy unloading reeds from a cart, but he cannot ignore the urgent plea of the older woman, Ambuya. “Keep an eye on the donkeys,” he shouts to his servant, and with a disgruntled face sits down on the ground next to Ambuya. “Ozias, things aren't going well with the children,” she begins, “and you are their uncle. Tamari can't manage on her own. I am helping the two youngest ones as well as I can, but I am poor. Tamari's debt to the grocer is growing from week to week. One day it will end badly. You are prosperous, you are the brother of their father. You have to help them out.”

Tamari indeed can’t manage alone. She is only seventeen. Her parents had died recently. Her brother Itai had gone to the capital, Harare, to earn some money, but since then she hasn’t heard a word from him. Tamari takes care of her little sister and brother. That is quite difficult, because there is no money left at home. And most villagers avoid the family, because their parents had AIDS.

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Alan)


“Ozias, I will be direct with you,” Ambuya goes on with a serious furrow on her forehead, “you are doing well, you have a healthy wife and three healthy children. I'm really happy for you, but it is your duty to assist your family members in need. Just do it!” Ozias gets up slowly, brushes off his clothes, and mumbles, “Yes, yes, I understand, but now I have to get on with my work.” Then, he walks away.


Everyone's child (1996) from the Zimbabwean film director Tsitsi Dangarembga is a poignant movie about the difficult life of foster children.

Go to:
= the next page: Not one student less - a hamlet in Hebei Province, China – 1997, story 148.
= the Table of contents, story 147.