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Spend A Day With A Zimbabwe Orphan On Twitter

Brenda Ndapasuwa

Brenda Ndapasuwa didn't attend school until she was 11. But after just a year and a half of accelerated classwork at Mavambo Learning Center, she entered fifth grade. Photo by Debbie DeVoe/CRS

Brenda's Tweets from August 12, 2009

6 a.m.: Hi, I'm Brenda Ndapasuwa. I'm 14 and live with my uncle in Zimbabwe.

6:18 a.m.: I don't want to get up, but my turn to do the dishes. I leave my 5 cousins huddled under 3 blankets on the kitchen floor

7:25 a.m.: Quickly drinking my tea and eating some sweet potatoes. Luckily my school is right across the road

7:42 a.m.: We're singing the national anthem, then a prayer before classes

8:40 a.m.: Today's math lesson is about figuring out areas. Can't wait for English class to start

9:27 a.m.: I'm writing an English essay about what I want to be when I grow up: a flight attendant, or maybe a dressmaker

10:11 a.m.: Finally a break! There were no extra sweet potatoes to bring today, but playing ball with Fiona is still fun

10:43 a.m.: Because there aren't enough classrooms or teachers, we study under a tree for 30 minutes—or keep playing

12:10 p.m.: It's cold! I'm glad we're back inside. Today we're studying the local language Shona this period. Tomorrow religion or environment

1:05 p.m.: This is when I miss my brother and sister. We all moved to different homes when mom died 5 yrs ago

2:26 p.m.: Classes end at 1 pm, but this week I'm paying the teacher $1 for extra lessons until 4 each day. Otherwise there's not much to do

3:27 p.m.: When there's no $ for extra lessons, I go by Mavambo Center, where I learned to read/write to 1st enter school

4:47 p.m.: My aunt just gave me 5 rand (50 cents) to buy rapeseed leaves, kind of like spinach. Wish we were having chicken

4:47 p.m.: Today I'm not on duty to cook, but I'm helping my cousin cut vegetables for supper

6:05 p.m.: My uncle isn't home yet, but my 2 cousins and I start eating: most days "sadza" cornmeal and pan-fried veggies

7:25 p.m.: There's no electricity tonight so no TV, but we head outside to sing church songs with our neighbors

8:40 p.m.: After a quick bucket wash, I say my prayers. First for God to take care of my brother and sister, then for me to excel in school

8:41 p.m.: I also say a prayer of thanks for my aunt and uncle taking care of me, and for my pastor

9:15 p.m.: My life's not easy. I wish my family were still together, but at least I'm in school and have other family here

9:18 p.m.: Can't stay awake any longer. Thanks for sharing the day with me. Good night!

Follow CRS on Twitter. Twitter

Hello from Zimbabwe. My name is Brenda Ndapasuwa, and I live in Mabvuku township right outside the capital of Harare. In celebration of International Youth Day on August 12, 2009, I'll be "tweeting" about a typical day in my life on Twitter*. Join us at

I'm happy to share a little about me and my country, but I'm not sure where to start. Well, I'm 14 years old and am halfway through seventh grade. I didn't start my formal education until I was 11, because my mom was sick a lot, and my stepfather wouldn't allow me or my brother and sister to go to school. Sometimes he would even give his biological children meat for dinner but would just give us some vegetables. It wasn't a very good time.

Our mom died when I was 9, my sister was 10 and my brother was 12. Because of all the problems in Zimbabwe, no relatives could afford to take us all in together. First I moved in with an uncle, but he had four other children. I could tell it was difficult for me to also be there. Then my mom's younger sister brought me to her house. She treated me like a daughter and thought it was very important for me to get an education.

That's when I started school at Mavambo Learning Center, a place supported by Catholic Relief Services that helps children who have never attended school quickly learn how to read and write so we can enter the regular education system. Because I'm a fast learner and get good grades, after just a year and a half I entered fifth grade at Batanai Primary School. Last term, I was sixth in my class of 43 students. I love reading English books, and I really want to go to college, especially after visiting the University of Zimbabwe.

My aunt died two years ago, so now I'm living with another uncle. We live on a compound with my two other uncles, their wives, and nine children, including me—with each family unit having a room of their own. Taking in orphans like me isn't easy since most people struggle to earn money here, but fortunately my uncle Andrew let me become part of his family. I miss my mom and my brother and sister, but it's okay. I still get to go to school, and my uncle works as a mechanic in a car garage, so we have an electric stove to cook on and even eat meat a few times each week.

For now, this is all I have to share. You can learn more about one of my typical days from my tweets at on August 12, 2009. Thanks for spending the day with me. And please keep me and my family in your prayers.

* Due to time differences and technical constraints in Zimbabwe, Brenda's tweets are based on prior conversations with her and will be posted by CRS staff.

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