Mama Sabawu – Gushing with Maternal Love
“LET the children come to me because the kingdom of heaven is theirs,” Jesus told his disciples after they had turned away the children, believing they would be a bother to their master.
Mounting socio–economic hardships in Zimbabwe have seen women from different walks of life and age brackets throwing away like dirt the offspring they would have brought into the world to escape the financial burden – among others – of providing for them throughout their childhood. The basic maternal instinct is subverted by an existence gone awry.
But once in a while – as God carefully chooses his disciples – along comes someone who, after having seen their own biological children off to adulthood, still has a lot of maternal love left over to give, even to strangers.
Regardless of the burden it entails, while others are pursuing glittering careers and glossy lifestyles, someone sees the greater richness in being their to give love and comfort to those broken young spirits left at the mercy of an otherwise cruel fate.
One such person who hearkens to the broken voices of those children left to fight it out alone in the wilderness is Christine Sabawu affectionately known to all the children who had passed through her hands as Mama Sabawu.
Mama Sabawu, who began her care–giving career as a volunteer with the then Harare Street Children Organisation – which was to later metamorphose into the faith–based Just Children Foundation (JCF) – in 1997, has worked for the organisation on a full –time basis since 1998.
Having started off as a cook at the foundation, the founder and then executive director, Mr. Kas, however saw the light in Mama Sabawu and realised that she had been carved out for a much bigger role than the one she was playing at that time.
“It was then that he approached me and asked me to become the matron of the home (Shelter of Joy) and mother of the children. I prayed about it a lot before accepting the responsibility,” Mama Sabawu recalled.
She had always had children at heart, and her stint as a Sunday School teacher in the past could have further fanned that fire in her soul.
“Seeing children in the streets breaks my heart,” she said.
Although some people believe that taking in children whose totems and backgrounds they were unfamiliar with would bring evil spirits to haunt their lives, here is a woman who believes that every child belongs to God, who is the Father of the fatherless.
She exudes the pride of a mother who had seen members of the brood she had nurtured to adulthood fly out of the nest to carve out their own lives as adults. Among these success stories is Cecil Mirisawu whom she cared for since he was a little boy right up to the time he went to Africa University in Mutare.
There is also Cabe Muusha who walked the entire journey to manhood under her care. Instead of walking away after his restoration, he chose to pay back the organisation by joining its staff as a counselor and outreach worker.
Most of the children who had passed through Mama Sabau’s hands have not forgotten this remarkable woman who nurtured them but still look up to her as their mother long after they have moved on in life. She still remains their mother, knowing their journeys, their haunts and their deepest secrets.
Her job, she said, called for a lot of sacrifices, but bringing smiles on the faces of those little children who had not had much to smile about in life is an enriching experience for her.
“They need love. We don’t only take these children from the streets. We reunite them with their families and while they are here, we lead them to Christ. We want them to know God. One needs Christ in this ministry,” she said.
Among these children are those who have been rejected and thrown away (as little babies), sexually, emotionally and psychologically abused.
During her stint as the JCF matron, it was her responsibility to ensure there was adequate food at all the centres and looking out for their health as well as training and guiding other counselors.
She said children were gifts and a blessing from God, so they had to be treasured, adding that God always provided for his children.
“In these times of hardships we’re still managing,” said this woman who belongs to a band of few who have decided to ignore all that the world could have offered them had they pursued a different path, but are unsung heroes whose enduring work testifies to the goodness and providence of God.
Here is a mother with open arms, one to whom suffering children – hurt and broken down by the vagaries of an unkind world that has lost its sense and direction – can come and find comfort.