Cute's message to the world

Cute, from Joining Forces

Hi world! I’m back!

It’s me Cute! A year has gone by since my last post. I am now 17 years old. I still live in the small rural community called Seke in Zimbabwe with my mom and my little sister.

So how did the COVID-19 pandemic affect my life and that of my peers in the past 12 months?

As I wrote last year, my mom is not formally employed like a lot of people in my community. So, the COVID-19 lockdown meant our stall at the local market place was closed. That meant we had no more money coming in and could only afford two small meals per day. This continued into the second lockdown! We never recovered our stall. Things are even more difficult now.

Clean water is still a huge problem in my community. Community wells have dried up and the few boreholes available are simply not enough. Me and my peers wake up as early as 4am to join the long queues at the boreholes. Even then there is no guarantee that you get the water. A lot of girls my age are abused by borehole queue marshals who ask for sexual favours in exchange for a place in front of the queue.

The COVID-19 lockdown meant schools were closed too. Everyone started talking about online education. To access this education, you need a smartphone and funds to pay to access the internet. For me and my peers, and I know we are in the majority, it is just like pie in the sky. We simply cannot afford it. A year has gone by and online education is still way out of reach for most of us.

I did a little survey after talking to so many young girls who were complaining about sanitary pads. I found out that as much as nine girls out of ten could not afford sanitary pads. They were using unhealthy material out of desperation. I know it might be frowned upon to bring it up to the whole world but to a girl growing up sanitary pads are an absolute necessity.

What needs to be done? Please help us sink more boreholes. It is urgent and should be a priority! Please make access to online education available to all children so that we all can benefit, rich or poor. I wish someone could help us get the knowledge to make sanitary pads for ourselves at school. Then we would not bother anyone anymore! Our parents desperately need jobs! Otherwise, more of us shall starve to death or continue to abuse drugs and our bodies in frustration!

I am sitting for the Ordinary Level National Education Certificate this year. Please wish me luck! I need it! After the second lockdown we just have two months to study before the exams begin! I am attending so many classes and extra lessons sometimes I fear my head is going to explode!

By the way a heartfelt thanks to the organizers of the Joint Forces event last year on World Children’s Day. You took my simple submission and made a blog in my name! When I participated on the virtual side event and interacted with so many empowered ladies from across the world, it was a life changing experience! In spite of everything I’m going through it showed me what I can achieve! I still cannot believe that the world is listening to me, a simple girl from rural Zimbabwe!

As always, a big hug to every girl child struggling every day to keep hope of a better future alive. The future is ours!

Cute, a 17-year-old girl from Zimbabwe is part of the Citizen Child Youth Media Project, which trains young people in her village to be local reporters. She is a youth contributor to Joining Forces. Visit the Joining Forces website to learn more.