“After my mom died, my stepfather kicked me out of my childhood home, saying, ‘You are not my son.’ I went to live with my grandmother in a house that belonged to the farm she worked on. My grandmother was good to me, but couldn’t afford my schooling. I didn’t go past Grade 2. When my granny died, I was kicked out of her house. I started to look for work. I worked as a garden boy. I lived like an animal.
Last year, my friend told me about South Africa. I decided to go there.
I wanted to become someone’s son.
I had no money so I walked from Bushmead, near Masvingo, to Beitbridge. I walked for two weeks and four days. It was August last year (*2016). I remember it was so hot. All the way I thought about a family.
To eat, I begged at every station and truck stop. Some gave money, others gave food. I wore my grandmother’s dustcoats. I wore her dresses and made it look like it was the fashion. These were the only items I could take from her home.
In Beitbridge a lady took me in. She kept me for two days but told me she could not keep me forever. She introduced me to two older boys that help people to cross into South Africa. That night we crossed the river. The water came up to my chest, but we made it to the other side. They left me in Messina. In the morning, I met a guy who told me about a shelter. He took me to the men’s shelter in Messina. But that place was not good. I asked if there was a place for children. I wanted to be a child again. The men told me about the shelter in Louis Trichardt. I got a lift to Louis Trichardt and when I got here I met some Zimbabweans who brought me to this shelter where I am now. I’ve been here for seven months.
Last week, it was my birthday. I turned 16. No, I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t do anything for my birthday. I have friends here but no best friend yet.
I am in Grade 8 this year, but it is hard. I am failing. They are teaching in Sepedi, but I speak Shona and some English. Even though I am failing I am learning. There is knowledge in my mind. It will help me later in life. I want to be a journalist when I finish here. The first story I write in the paper will be my own.
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