Daughter turns to selling sex to save dying mom

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

JUST like a mother would do anything to save a dying child, an Epworth woman has turned to the world’s oldest profession to save her stricken parent.

The pain of watching her mother waste away through kidney ailment has driven 24-year-old Tendai Manhenga (note her real name) into selling sex to raise funds.

Manhenga’s mother, Mavis (60) is now blind because she failed to access treatment on time.

Mavis needs nearly $2 000 in local currency a month to undergo dialysis at public health institutions where there is always a queue and machines at times are either not working or are down because of current power shortages affecting the country.

“I just could not wait and see my mother dying without me doing something, my conscience was killing me,” Tendai tearfully told in an interview.

“A friend, who has been paying for her siblings’ school fees through sex work, introduced me to the trade. At first it was difficult but ndatojaira (I am now used).”

While admitting she normally did not raise enough to meet the bills, Manhenga is grateful to authorities and government hospitals for their understanding and agreeing to allow her to stagger payments. This allows her mother to access much-needed treatment.

“The money is never enough and we owe the hospital but I am happy that they agree to treat my mother because now and then we bring in money to pay for the ever escalating bill.

“But I am motivated by my mother’s will power to survive. In spite of all the pain and suffering, she is always jovial,” Manhenga said.

“Friends and well-wishers have been supportive especially from church, bringing in food and just spending time with her as a form of comfort.”

However, the sad part is Manhenga’s mother does not know where her daughter is getting the money.

“I have told her that I got a job as a waitress at a Harare night club in the central business district,” she said.

“If I had a choice, I would not be doing this. I have done everything, and I mean everything, even begging for jobs, but nothing came off it.”

Manhenga has also now taken the responsibility of paying her brother and sister’s school fees, who are in Grade 7 and Form Two, respectively.

They attend schools in a rundown settlement south of Harare.

“They are both performing well in school and I hope they will get decent jobs after school and take care of themselves,” she said.

“Our father passed on 10 years ago and I always ask God, why us.”

The high costs of dialysis have condemned many to death.

Many poor families just cannot afford even one session and have watched desperate relatives waste away.

Life for renal patients in Zimbabwe has become a nightmare. One dialysis session costs around US$200 in public institutions and much more at private hospitals where services are relatively efficient.