Meet Concilia - a 13-year-old girl raising her remaining family members on her own. After the death of her mother and her aunt, Concilia found herself responsible for not only her own care, but also that of her two cousins, Magret (10) and Shelton (8). Like so many in Zimbabwe, these three orphaned children have become a child-headed household, fending for themselves and doing their best to care for each other.
Concilia is a cousin to Magret and Shelton. Her favorite animal is a rabbit. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up. Her favorite color is green.
Meet Magret, 10 years old. She is the sister to Shelton and cousin to Concilia. Her favorite animal is the cow. When she grows up, she wants to be a nurse. Her favorite color is red.
Meet Shelton, 8 years old. He is the brother to Magret and cousin to Concilia. His favorite animal is a buck. He wants to be a teacher and his favorite color is green. As the only boy in the family, he is considered head of the household.
Concilia, Magret and Shelton live on a small homestead, with one small hut for cooking, and another for sleeping. They used to share this home with their mothers, who are now buried side-by-side on the edge of their land. There is no toilet, no electricity, no running water. The closest water source is a well half a kilometer away. Food is scarce, as they have no source of income and no seeds to plant a garden this year. During the week, they receive one meal a day at school. On the weekends, they typically eat a leafy weed that grows near their home, and that's all.
Living daily with challenges no child should have to face, Concilia, Magret and Shelton are showing tremendous resiliency. All three are still in school. Their school fees are paid for by a partnership between Forgotten Voices and their local community. But they get themselves up, dressed and off to school each morning. They also possess surprising ingenuity. Without electricity or even money to buy candles, they've discovered that a certain tree produces a seed pod which acts like a slow-burning candle when lit. This is how they light their home at night to do homework! The local AIDS Project staff who work with Concilia, Magret and Shelton cite this "homemade" candle as an example of the way they've become inventive, instead of defeated, in the face of desperation.
Please pray for these three brave children as they continue living on their own. Pray that they will grow to know and experience their heavenly father's provision and love for them each day.
Photography by Krista Guenin http://kristaphoto.blogspot.com