A 12-YEAR-OLD Livingstone girl, Maria Nambeya,
is in the care of a family of 10 which includes two women.
And The African Woman Foundation (TAWF) founder Joseph Moyo says Maria is being robbed of her childhood.
During a visit to her parents’ home in Mulala area east of Linda Township, Maria a Grade 3 who visibly looks traumatised said she usually gets headaches and experiences pains in her knees as she has to cover over 20 kilometers per day as a hawker.
Her father, who has since abandoned his family, has two wives – Maria’s mother Sylvia and her step mom Cynthia.
“I fear that if I am hit by a vehicle no one will know who I am or how to find my mother,” Maria said in Nyanja.
She later broke down when Moyo told her that he would buy all her carrots which she was found selling in the town centre and that it should be her last trip to hawk.
Moyo promised to take care of her and her family’s needs.
Her mother, Sylvia Nalwamba, 30, said she has six children while her colleague Cynthia aged 24 has three and is expecting a fourth child.
Sylvia revealed that four of her children were delivered through Caesarean.
“I used to also get into town (to hawk) but due to my operations I usually feel pain, so we have to rely on Maria for us to be able to have a meal,” she said.
“Maria even helped me buy baby clothes for my youngest son who is almost a year old now. She is the one who feeds us, so to say.”
Cynthia added that Maria gives her a five kwacha every day after she sell some merchandise in town.
Asked where their husband is, both women said he only turns up once in a while.
They revealed that he is a blacksmith.
Cynthia, however, said he does not help in any way.
“We stay in two different houses but both have no roofs and doors; the roofs are just covered by sacks and some plastics,” Cynthia said.
She indicated that the last time her husband sent them a K40 was over four months ago.
Both women do not have cell phones and said it was the same with their husband.
Moyo, who was visibly shocked at the state of the welfare of the two women and their nine children, said the man had abandoned his family and was only interested in sex.
“Let her (Maria) grow up in a natural way and not to be transitioned into adulthood. She is caring for two families,” he said.
“Poverty brings a lot of problems…the girl faces a lot of danger to her life because the area she has to walk through at night or day time is an elephant corridor. She is also at risk of abuse to sexual assault. The man is using them as baby making machines. He is only interested in sex.”