Children bear the brunt of dysfunctional families

By Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor

AS parents face challenges ranging from divorce and death to professional matters, children are the most affected often times than not, resulting in them suffering from mental health.

Being a son to a mother with mental challenges and brother to eight siblings while lacking supporting structures is a mentally-taxing ordeal for 16-year-old Moses Simango of Chipinge.

“It is very difficult for me to survive every day looking after my sick mother. Sometimes I sit down with her, but I can not make sense of what she will be saying and it pains me. I just want a normal family. In our neighbourhood, most children laugh at me calling my mother names, even at school,” narrated Simango.

For 19-year-old Panashe Dzvifu, his parent’s divorce was the breaking point before he sought solace in drugs.

“My parents divorced in 2016. Dad went away and my mom struggled to pay my fees which resulted in me dropping out of school in Form 3. She could not pay my school fees.

“This affected me and I started abusing drugs. My friends told me to indulge in drugs to forget my sorrows. I was becoming violent and would sleep out on the streets.

“My father just left us and we did not have closure but fortunately for me, FOST and UNICEF helped me quit drugs. It has been a year since I have been clean from drug abuse,” said a hopeful Dzvifu, who is now looking at building a great future for himself.

Some adolescents just yearn for their parents’ support in education and career choices.

“I will be going to study irrigation technology but it is not my choice. I wanted to study motor mechanics. Parents should support their children’s career paths, we need their guidance and counselling, but they should support our decisions as well.

“I have no choice but to study what my parents want. Mentally, I was working under pressure because I had to read an extra mile just to pass,” said Lordwins Munyama.

Tsitsi Sithole, a childcare worker in Chipinge’s Ward 8, highlights some of the challenges being faced by children in the area.

“Covid-19 disrupted the lifestyles of many children in Chipinge and many of them are failing to recover. They have been forced to operate from dysfunctional families and with no one to talk to, they have resorted to drugs. Thus, we are working with them so that they can come together, share their ordeals and just offload so that they don’t abuse drugs,” she said.

Faced with these challenges and no one to talk to, most children and adolescents are resorting to suicide and drug abuse, which has prompted the government in conjunction with UNICEF to come up with mitigation measures to address the broad spectrum of mental health issues affecting children and adolescents.