Guardian angel vows to get cash for poor Zim kids

WHEN a group of displaced Zimbabwean children came to South Africa seeking refuge in Limpopo, they hardly expected the harsh reality of living in a foreign country where poverty is still deeply entrenched.

The children, with other abandoned local children, are accommodated at the Beula Children's Shelter in the northeastern outskirts of Polokwane.

Due to the unavailability of scholar transport they have to walk 15km to the nearest school, Kgaiso High, in Seshego township.

One of them, Tinashe Muneo, 19, a Grade 11 learner, confirmed that: "We frequently walk to and from Seshego because the mini truck that normally transports us is constantly broken down.

"The trip is long and tiring but we have no alternative...

"We have to walk to be educated," said Muneo.

This happens despite the Limpopo provincial department's budget allocation of R100 million during this financial year.

The department said yesterday that it would verify the circumstances that led to these children walking such a long distance to school.

"The department's policy is that we provide scholar transport for learners who live more than 5km from the school. However, we are now going to launch an investigation into the matter," said department spokesperson Pat Kgomo.

Their exhaustingly long walk to get an education is only a small part of a host of hardships in their daily lives.

Their orphanage is a health hazard, with an unpleasant smell coming from a dysfunctional drainage system.

Since these Zimbabwean children do not have South African identity documents, they are able to access only a limited range of social grants and food parcels.

Touched by their plight, a Good Samaritan, Sophie Ledwaba of Seshego, organised a charity lunch with a concerned group of women and students from various tertiary institutions from around the province.

They will help the needy children with school uniforms, meals and other essentials. The charity event is scheduled for the afternoon of April 17 at the centre.

Some of these children are on antiretroviral treatment. The centre's manager, Peter Sekhu, confirmed that "some of them receive treatment at state health facilities".

Their problems are further aggravated by poverty, overcrowding and an unhealthy staple diet.

Violet Molefe, a general worker, says the centre is supposed to care for only 40 children. However, due to pressure, so far they are accommodating 75 of them, making the centre unmanageable.