…16-year-old child resorts to transactional sex…

By Kudakwashe Chidziya

That afternoon 16-year-old Leona hopped off the rusty bus and from sharing a laugh with her close friends, to her lifetime shock upon entering their home. Noticing that her mom was lying on the floor, “Mhamha!” she called thinking to herself maybe she just fell asleep. The pool of blood however made her more suspicious. Her one-week old sister helplessly lied beside her unconscious mother with dried tears. Leona pulled her little sister to the relief of her loud cry. Both in tears, she made a guess after eye contact with unblinking eyes of her mother. Absent mindedly, Leona reached to the doorstep with her little sister in her shaky arms trying to go outside and that was it. “Are you ill? Where is your mother? How can you be so reckless falling with such a tiny baby?” the questions faintly echoed in her ears. Her neighbors’ questions and recent confirmation, “Maiwe! Mai Leo vafa!” (Leona’s mother is dead) sent Leona to a deep sleep. Of course she was dead. Postpartum Hemorrhage has taken the life of a 31-year-old mother of two.

With shortage of Blood Group O+, Leona’s mother voluntarily opted for a discharge a day after giving birth. Though advised that she might get a few pints soon, she feared for her lonely 15 year old daughter and went home.

Three days later after excessive bleeding at home, she breathed her last in the presence of her 3-year-old last born.

A pint of blood could have saved a mother’s life and secured the future of a 16-year Girl Child Leona whose future looks so bleak.

Armed with her vagina, like a soldier of fortune Leona has survived on commercial sex work following the fall of her only pillar she could lean on – her mother.

Without legal identities besides the assumed names Leona and Amanda, Leona two weeks later left her little sister Amanda with one of their neighbors to face yet another nightmare in the world of commercial sex-work.

“After my mother’s death, I had no one to help me. I could not continue with my education. The only thing I can survive on is transactional sex. I started off as a street kid till I began to do sex-work. I would at times sleep at my clients’ houses and I would face all sorts of abuse. Now I am staying with a friend who is also in the same trade,” she said.

“I cherish people who commit to donate blood. I wish I could but for fear of my status, I cannot donate blood but I always encourage people to donate blood that is why today I have come with my old friend whom I met earlier. Life was not going to be the same if my mother was alive,” tearful Leona said.

National Blood Service Zimbabwe (NBSZ) regularly hosts Pledge 25 Gala’s where young people come and donate blood. It is during such platforms when NBSZ get to interact with young people and get to know of their experiences and thoughts when it comes to blood donation.

After hearing Leona’s story, it left a lot wondering whether it is an isolated case or a tip of the iceberg. Zimbabwe is not spared from WHO statistics:

Throughout the world, over 300,000 women die each year from problems that arise during pregnancy and childbirth. Where about 700 women die each year in the US, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that approximately 830 women die each day worldwide.

Speaking to some Pledge 25 youths, Patience, Cynthia and Allan collectively said, “It is important for us young people to donate blood. Blood save lives and this benefits everyone. As youths we remain committed to donate blood. It is sad some youths of our age loose parents and relatives due to shortage of blood. It is a sad story of Leona and to avoid this, as youths we have a role to play. With the precious priceless blood, we shall be selfless,” they concurred.


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