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Ilanga Provincial Newspapers

Homeless community undocumented

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THE homeless community, who are largely known as street kids, vagrants or street
people seem to be a forgotten society as they do not have easy access to
medication and are undocumented.

Statistics show that there 1 200 people living on the streets and squatter camps,
although the number could be more.

Giving testimony during National Aids Council (NAC) Editors’ workshop held at
ZIPAM in Murombedzi District, Eatout Movement director, Henry Chigama, who is a
recovered homeless, pleaded with the Government to put in place strategies to
address challenges faced by the homeless people.

He explained that not all homeless people are on the streets by choice. Some could
have been forced by different pressures emanating from mental health, depression
and being deviant.

In his presentation on HIV issues among the homeless community, Chigama said
that he was once on the streets for eight months as a result of depression.

“Being homeless is not by choice, but there are various factors behind. However, as
victim who spent a good eight months on the streets of Johannesburg in South Africa
I experienced a lot of challenges.

“What pains me most is that some of the camps of homeless communities are
unrecognised HIV hotspots and a haven for drugs and dangerous substance abuse.

“Unprotected sex, involving minors is the order of the day in the streets. During the
day some members of the homeless community will be taking drugs and dangerous
substances and during the night they indulge in unprotected sex, where they even
exchange partners willy nilly,” explained Chigama.

The NAC has some programmes that address the plight of the homeless although
they cannot reach out to all corners.

Besides working in collaboration with NAC, Chigama said his organisation seeks to
work with the Government departments such as the Civil Registry, Zimstats and the
Ministry of Health among others.

“During my time on the streets, I realised that some of the homeless dwellers are
intelligent, with great potential to develop their societies if they are rehabilitated.

As part of their programmes that seeks to rehabilitate the homeless, Eatout
Movement has Sunday eats, where they feed 170 to 220 people at Anglican Church
in Harare.

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