Josephine Chihweta – An unaccompanied minor from Zimbabwe
“My life could have turned out much differently if both my parents were still alive. I was born in Zimbabwe, and from the start, my life has been rough. I came to South Africa when l was only 14 years old in the company of my 16 year old sister, who felt life would be much better there as we had no one to look after us in Zimbabwe. You’d never guess the horrors that l have experienced in my childhood and the bad influences that l was exposed to. I know how it feels like being in a detention centre, staying in the lonely streets of South Africa and having nothing to eat for days. For years, I never had a permanent residence to call home. Memories tend to be very dark; I don’t like reflecting back, as it feels I’m re-living the experience once again.
Life changed for better when l started staying at the URC Women’s Shelter for Vulnerable Women and Unaccompanied Girls, in Musina. It’s not a five-star hotel like l would expect it to be but l have a roof over me, some food, clothes and people who take good care me to make sure that my needs and those of other children are met. I’m in grade 11 this year, working hard to pass my matric next year in order to pursue my dreams further.
I have always dreamed big about my life and what l want to be in future. I have gone through so many challenges but l have not let them hinder my progress. I have learnt to fight for what l want and be an inspiration to girls my age that might be going through the same challenges that l went through. In 2012 l was nominated as the Child Rights Ambassador of South Africa and I’m currently the Vice Chair-person of Musina Children’s Committee, advocating for the voiceless children and serving as an instrument in healing the bridge between the local and foreign children. In June this year, l will be representing South Africa in Tanzania for the Country Schools Debate Programme. I was selected after l performed well and came out first during the Schools Heritage Educational Debate Programme in Limpopo. The sky is the limit for me!”