- Published on 18 June 2013
Eight years ago, when Taremeredzwa 'Tare' Mapungwana was 13 years old, she had a toothache. Her mum Thandiwe told her not to worry and that it would go away. Like many of Zimbabwe's poor, she could not afford dental treatment. Unfortunately, Tare's toothache did not go away, but instead developed into an aggressive swelling on her upper left jaw.
Thandiwe spent three years travelling her country in search of a doctor able to stop the growth that was slowly taking over her daughter's face, but with no success. The tumour continued to grow until it began to close Tare's airways and push her jaw out of her mouth.
In the UK, Tare's medical condition would require full-time hospitalisation, but with no free health care in Zimbabwe, Thandiwe and Tare were reliant on charity. Help eventually arrived from two organisations, Saving Faces and Girl Child Network Worldwide. A UK surgeon became involved, and finally Thandiwe and Tare could begin to hope.
Girl Child Network Worldwide (GCNW) reportedly collaborated with Red Rebel Films and Channel Five to help Taremeredzwa Mapungwana to be featured on Channel Five's Extraordinary People.
This heartwarming film follows Thandiwe and Tare through the highs and lows of her treatment. It is a remarkable story of Tare's courage and will to survive, her mother's undying love as she becomes a full-time carer and the dedication of the surgeon who is willing to operate for free.
Girl Child Network founder, Betty Makoni, is said to have gone through many obstacles to bring Tare to UK as well as fundraise for her first two successful operations since 2009.
The young girl first went to the United Kingdom in September 2009 after a rural school head and her students Mrs Nyoni in Manicaland, Zimbabwe as well as Taremeredzwa Mapungwana's brother Talent made an appeal through an email to Betty Makoni who had relocated to UK with her family after living in self-imposed exile in Botswana in 2008.
Makoni who stayed with Tare Mapungwana for six months at her house whilst she was in and out of hospital described her as brave, resilient, intelligent, focused and mature young girl who loves peace, respects her parents and is very prayerful.
Since 2004 Tare was fighting with a tumour, but after the two operations in 2009 & 2010 in the UK she is now on her road to recovery. She returned to school to complete her "A" level studies. She resumed her studies in April 2010 with a local private college, where she did well in the progress tests.
Girl Child Network Worldwide in collaboration with other international NGOS are reportedly in search of a scholarship in the US for her to pursue her medical career.
GCN / My Zimbabwe