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Finding hope in an ailing economy: Feeding the homeless in Bulawayo

For three years, on a weekly basis, Kira Mliswa has made it her mission to serve the less privileged and forgotten community of homeless young men, women and children in Bulawayo.

While serving the community is an unpopular phenomenon that most individuals find daunting and emotionally and financially draining, Mliswa has not lost faith in assisting the young disenfranchised children who roam, rest and move stealthily in the streets of Zimbabwe’s second largest city.

Every Saturday, Mliswa, sets up a public kitchen across a local park where she serves food to children living in the streets as well as homeless adults, regardless their age.

“On average, I serve food to at least 20 to 25 people on a weekly basis,” said Kira Mliswa, a community leader and devout Christian. “I chose to serve food to this group because I value their lives and I connect with children. Assisting the needy is a calling that I have accepted and continue to embrace,” she said.

Mliswa’s mission is to ensure that the forgotten members of society are well taken care of, through her weekly ‘soup kitchen.’ In her service to the community, Mliswa does not discriminate the homeless as she assists them without question.

Mliswa’s gesture to serve the needy is what she refers to as a “God-given calling” that she executes wholeheartedly.

“It is easy for me to relate with children who have found a home in these busy streets of the city. They effortlessly open up to me on issues that affect them. I am not sure what really draws them to me. It could be my face or the manner I talk to them, but all I know is we connect and this enriches my purpose,” says Mliswa as she marvels at the children waiting in line for a meal of rice and soup, served in crisp white paper plates.

The streets of Bulawayo have become a home for many marginalized and homeless children who face a myriad of challenges and hardships such as sexual abuse and assault.

“There are days when older ‘city’ men approach us for sexual favours in exchange for a R100 payment,” revealed a young boy with a quivering voice, as he shared an agonising, heart breaking story of a life in the day of a “street kid.”

The young boy, seemingly below the age of 12, could not reveal whether or not his peers comply to the demands that older men make.

Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) is documenting the lives of people resident in the streets so as to depict their living conditions in the ailing Zimbabwean economy through capturing the impact of the economic meltdown and its effect on the lives of young women surviving in the streets of the city.



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