The grandmothers who save lives

05/16/2017
The Los Angeles Times

Sekesai Hwiza, an 82-year-old Zimbabwean grandmother, spends most mornings sitting on a park bench talking to people who are emotionally broken by the stresses of life. She has met with more than 2,000 people in her community over the last three years, most of them young people who are depressed and suicidal. Each person who joins Hwiza on the bench finds a patient listener who gives nonjudgmental advice based on the best practices of psychology.

But not everyone has access to grandmothers like Hwiza.

One evening last August in Harare, a 26-year-old woman named Tanaka fed her two young children cups of cornmeal porridge laced with poison. She then read them a bedtime story before drinking a cup of the concoction herself. Hours later, her husband and neighbors rushed Tanaka, unconscious, to the emergency room. Five days later, she was dead. Neither of her children survived.

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