As I took a stroll behind the Point Four Junction vicinity located on Bushrod Island, I noticed the further I walked in, the more it became polluted.
Human feces could be spotted near and around cook shops, homes and playing areas where children of all ages ran around bare footed, un-kept and without parental guidance.
Zimbabwe, a housing project behind Point Four, is over populated with some of the poorest families. There you will find patched zinc houses, loud music, drug users, criminals, gambling, prostitutes and no control.
Darius, a toddler who I met sitting unattended right near a drug-infested house immediately raised his arms when he spotted me. Unable to walk yet, he placed the dirt he was nibbling on down and cried for me.
“ Mama” he cooed.
Near the same house stood dozens of men who hung their heads low to focus on the dice that was being thrown to the ground. They were unaware of my presence.
“My man, your turn to roll is over. Pass me the dice you dirty dog,” shouted a man wearing a filthy pair of jeans with a cigarette hanging from his lips.
While trying to pick up the toddler, a woman who appeared to be the child’s mother began to ask questions.
“My son will dirty you, are you sure you want to pick him up? He’s rude and not a child that you’ll want to hold,” she warned.
I picked him up anyway. Within minutes he began to breathe steadily until he fell asleep in my arms. I used the opportunity to ask his mother about the whereabouts of his father.
“He doesn’t have a father,” she brushed my question off.
Meanwhile, the scent of marijuana (weed), cigarette and garbage being burned all at once marinated in the closed up community.
I handed the child to his mother and to my surprise, she sat him back down where I had picked him up. He wailed.
I walked over to the drug-infested house and met a woman who says she has been selling weed for the past eight years.
“It supports me and my two daughters and I don’t have a problem with telling people about why I sell it,” she added.
According to Brenda who asked that her real name not be used, during the Liberian civil war, she was raped and gave birth to a daughter who she says loves the street.
“Because of the ordeal, I have a large growth in my stomach that has been there for years. I can’t stop crying when I think about how my life is and will probably end if I don’t get help quick,” she cried.
As we talked, men, girls and women of all ages came to buy weed that Brenda says cost less than a US$0.50.
“I spend over US$20 to buy it once a week and I make over US$10 profit on it. But the police at zone 1 raid me all the time and take away my earnings,” she added.
Brenda’s youngest daughter, Mami, served people as they came whenever her mother was too busy
“Sometimes my mother leaves me here to sell. Some crazy men come to buy and try to act like they want to hurt me and a lot of times my mother has had to fight for my business,” she shared.
A group of children who Mami says are her friends gathered around the house. A little girl who wasn’t wearing a shirt began pulling at my bag asking if I had any candy. The group of children followed in pursuit as Brenda and I toured her small sized apartment.
After asking them for their names, the children shared that they were the children of the men who I had spotted gambling.
“Our parents are over there shooting dice and in there smoking,” they giggled.
After gathering my bags and camera to leave Zimbabwe, I realized that I had become the center of attraction.
‘You better not put our faces in the news or tell the police that drugs are here,” one filthy man screamed at me.
I was told by Brenda to hurry up and get away before someone robbed or hurt me.