Zhakata Family by: mona

My name is Esnath Zhakata and I am 31 years old. I live with my husband Tapiwa Zhakata who is 28, and our small son Simbacabihz, who is 1. We live in a town called Marondera in Zimbabwe.


All three of us live in a small hut with one bedroom. We have a few sheets and blankets we arrange to make a sleeping area each night. We built this hut 5 years ago, with the help of some of our family and friends. The roof was built with long grasses using the thatching method, and the walls were built with mud. Our hut wasn’t built professionally or with the most quality materials, so when it rains our roof does somewhat leak. Our hut has no running water, electricity or a toilet. However we do have a well that’s not too far away with access to water. We don’t spend too much time inside because our hut doesn’t have much room to move around, but mainly because it’s dark, considering we don’t have any electricity or windows.


Both my husband and I are educated to some degree. We are both literate. In fact, Zimbabwe has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa with around 90% of people that are able to read. There are a few different options of schools in our town for our son. There are both private schools and government owned schools, also known as public schools, where anyone can attend for free. The private schools are in a better condition and have more learning opportunities. Some of the public schools aren't in the best condition, with holes in the ceiling, and cracks in the floor. In our town we have both elementary and secondary education available, although it’s not the best education. There are schools with mixed genders, and with only one gender.

When Simbacabihz is old enough to begin considering schools, a big obstacle will be transportation. We don't own a car, so we might have to resort to a homeschool system. There are a few volunteer parents who welcome nearby students into their home and teach them basic things. It’s not a formal education with a degree, but at least he’ll learn basic concepts like reading to some degree.


My husband and I both work as small scale farmers. Together, we work for a total of 80 hours a week. We earn what is close to $42 a month in American currency. The average wage of a family in Zimbabwe is around $200 - $250 dollars a month in American currency. So, although there are many Zimbabweans making something similar to our wage or less, we are considerably poorer than the average Zimbabwean, who isn’t quite rich either.

Buying all of our food costs about 40% of our income. That only leaves the other 60% of our money for other necessary items including soap, clothes, things to take care of our child, and much more. We are hardly able to save any money, but have managed to go on short trips from time to time. The furthest we have been is Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. This is 75.7 km away from Marondera, our town. We do own an old phone, strictly used to send text messages. We own some agricultural land, and the next big thing we plan on buying is some farming seeds and fertilizer. Our dream is to one day buy some cattle and a house.


Good hygiene is essential to good health. We aren't able to have the best hygiene considering our limited supply of water and soap, but we make do with what we have. Every week I spend around an hour collecting water from a well nearby with a plastic bucket. This water isn’t very clean. We use this water for showering, washing our hands, washing dishes, washing clothes, cooking and drinking. We also have one bar of soap at a time. We use this same bar for everything including cleaning ourselves and our clothes/dishes. We keep it on a rock outside.

We don’t have a toilet, so we go to the bathroom in the open. We use leaves as toilet paper. This isn't very comfortable or sanitary, but we have no other choice. We are very careful with how much water we use to wash our hands, because we need enough for everything else.

We have one plastic toothbrush my husband and I share. However we don’t have any toothpaste, so we just use a small amount of water and brush.

There is couple hospitals in our town, but only one of them is paid for by the government, free for everyone to use. This hospital is much too far from our house and we don't have a car, so if we ever have a medical emergency, we won't be able to get there fast enough. Our only option is to use things we have around the house to treat the emergency.

We don’t have money to be able to access to the best healthcare, or money for good hygiene. Even with more money our health and hygiene wouldn’t be as good as in the United States, and in Canada. Although we don’t have much money, neither does our country. In Zimbabwe the average life expectancy is about 56 years old, while in Canada and the United states it’s around 80.


Our food is very simple, and often consists of one or two ingredients. We don’t have much of a variety to chose from, just whatever is currently being grown locally. We don’t eat much meat because we can’t afford it. Our meals don’t have a lot of flavour or have much nutrients needed to sustain a long and healthy life. But they do give enough nourishment and energy for our farming job.

We have some plates, cups, and utensils for eating our food. We also have some pots for cooking our meals with. We cook our food outside on an open fire using firewood, which I take about 3 hours collecting every week. We can’t cook inside because we don’t have a steam exit. We also eat outside


Water is a crucial part to every human's life. 20 - 50 litres of water is needed per person a day for drinking, cooking and basic hygiene. Not only is water needed, but CLEAN water. Around two million people die each year because of lack to clean water, and over tens of millions of people are affected with diarrheal diseases due to unsafe water. Most, if not all of these cases were preventable.

In Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, about 60% of the population doesn’t have access to safe drinking water. The rest of the country is in a similar situation of not worse. In Zimbabwe 25% of the population doesn’t have access to any sort of toilet facility, and 44% of the population practice open defecation, which means going to the bathroom in the open. This is very unsanitary and can cause all sorts of infections and diseases.

WASH is a program which stands for, “Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene.” It was launched by Unicef with a goal of improving the access to safe drinking water, sanitation facilities and the promotion of hygiene in poorer countries. For Zimbabwe the WASH program’s plan is to reconstruct thirty piped water facilities in thirty districts in five provinces across Zimbabwe. Along with that they are installing 15 000 latrines in 10 000 communities, 10 000 latrines in primary, and 350 in secondary rural schools. At the end this will give 2.5 million people access safe water and sanitation facilities all year round in Zimbabwe.


Created with images by OceEecO - "DSC_0893 (2)" • TBIT - "dollar bank note money"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.