by Lina Taylor
this story is about a poor child in south africa
|Please comment. Feel free to tell me anything that you think is wrong. thanks
Life in Africa
Catherine Kagwiria lived in a little hut in Ethiopia, Africa. It was the period of severe drought again. Everyone hated this time of the year. Even though Ethiopia had virtually been on permanent drought as rainfall is low all year round, this period was the worst. Crops have wasted away, wells are dry, livestock are dying and the land has become a desiccated sprawl of dust. Catherine sighed. She hated this time of the year too. It meant starvation and more starvation, sometimes even death. The young children were the worst off. They were weak, small and vulnerable and were the drought’s first victims. It was a period of terror and fear.
Catherine was six years old and, like the other children, was in constant need of nourishment thus Catherine’s tribe could not just sit around and wait for food to drop from the sky. They had to leave their settlements and look for food. They wandered down the road, looking for an oasis or a well filled with water. Migration is the only way of survival. Many times, they had to walk for miles before they could find a water source. This year, it was the same. Catherine had trudged for hours until she could take it no more. Her stomach ached from emptiness. The only thing ate that day was some leaves from the ground. She collapsed. Luckily, her mother saw her, carried Catherine up and continued on their journey. After many hours, the tribe leader finally asked the villagers to settle down at a certain spot. It seemed that he had found a well! Everyone was relieved. They could at least survive on the water in the well for a few days before they had to move on once again. The children squealed in delight and immediately lied down to sleep after the men made shelters using large leaves and wood. After that, the men went to hunt for animals while the women washed clothes and gathered wood to produce a fire.
As the days go by, the tribe kept on moving from one water source to the other. Usually, the water source did not last them for more than a week. They traveled and traveled. Only the strongest ones survived till the end of the severe drought. Many people died due to starvation or diseases. Because the villagers were malnourish, their immune system has gone down. They easily caught illnesses. Catherine watched her father and many others die from AIDs. When her father first became sick, she had to care for them day by day until he finally died. It was a painful sight. Her father did not even have a proper burial. The tribe members just left him there in the sun while they continued their journey to find more water. Catherine knelt beside her father’s body, not wanting to leave him behind for the vultures to devour in but she had no choice. In order to survive, she had to follow the tribe. After her father’s death, she was determined to end this starvation crisis. She knew, in order to do that, she needed to be alive. Catherine wept as she followed the tribe away from her father.
After months of traveling, they finally headed back home – the small little town in Ethiopia. They reached home early in the morning just before sunrise. Catherine followed her mother, Laskshmi to the supplementary feeding center in the middle of the town which only opened at this time of the year. There was a food distribution and almost the whole village lined up to obtain food. A bowl of rice was given to each villager. Laskshmi was worried that by the time it reached their turn, there would be no more rice left for them.
To there delight, they were given the last bowl of rice for that day! The families behind them in line were extremely upset because the feeding center only opened once a week and the other families might probably starve to death before the center opened again. Some of them cried sadly while others were jealous of the people who received their rice. Catherine and her mother were walking back to their hut happily when a man pushed her mother down and snatched the rice bowl away. Catherine screamed and her mother tried to snatch the bowl back but to no avail. The two of them watched as the man ran off with their only bowl of rice. Her mother squatted down and picked up every grain of rice that fell onto the ground. Catherine helped. Every grain was precious and every one had to be picked up. The rich might think those grains of rice was dirty and little and that it was useless to pick them up but Catherine and her mother were poor and thus their survival depended on every grain of rice.
That day Lakshmi did not eat but gave all the rice that they picked up to Catherine. In order for Catherine to not worry, Lakshmi lied to her daughter that she had already eaten. Lakshmi looked at her daughter as she ate. Seeing Catherine happy made her happy too. The survival of her daughter was the only thing she cared about.
After Lakshmi died in her sleep due to AIDs too, Catherine moved in with her grandmother. The house that they lived in was made of scraps of metal, slabs of wood and a few bricks. As Catherine’s grandmother could hardly support herself, Catherine also had to work to make ends meet. Everyday, she work from sunrise to sundown, only getting five minutes break every four hours. The place where she worked was next to a local school. While Catherine works, she could see children of her age playing in the playground, laughing and having fun. Every day, she could hear the teacher teaching and the students reading aloud in the classroom. She longed to join in the fun and the learning process, but she knew she could not afford to do so. Working long hours not only reduced Catherine’s time to play and have fun, it endangers her health too. There were many times Catherine collapsed during work as she had little amount of food and rest.
To add on to her trouble, Catherine’s grandmother had a stroke so it was up to Catherine to do everything. She had to do house chores, work everyday to support both herself and her grandmother. She tried to find another job which she could go home early to look after her grandmother but still earn as much, of course, there was no such job for her. She could not take the stress but she strived on until her grandmother finally died. For the first time, Catherine felt so alone. She was officially an orphan and she did not have any family or relatives. If only someone or something to help her, a miracle…
She was walking alone in the streets, confused, when she came along a signboard – “Bona Lesedi”, which means “See Hope” in the Setswana language. It was a day care center for orphans. She walked inside the center and looked at all the happy orphans running around. From that moment, Catherine knew that was her new home.
Catherine is now living happily in the day care center. She has proper shelter, clothing and education. She is now healthy. Over there, she was provided with love and care which she had lost over the few months to the AIDS/HIV outbreak. She has also made new friends. Now, she was not only watching the children playing in the playground in school, she was one of them.