South Africa--Today I was walking down the street with my uncle’s wife to her house. As we were chatting and laughing, my eyes suddenly wondered off to a group of women who were sitting in a circle arguing loudly about money at a house next to the street. The site of them doing what they were doing really sickened me inside. I was disturbed by what I was seeing. Women were playing poker. I can understand that poverty is a big challenge for most people in rural areas of South Africa like Tintswalo village, but gambling shouldn’t be the solution to make money.
Their gambling addiction really concerns me a lot because most of these women are mothers, some grandparents. Every month they collect Child Support Grants from the government on behalf of their children. They have been collecting it since 1994 and the children don’t get to see a cent of it. The money is never used to buy food and clothes for them. You will find a child wearing torn pants, walking down the streets bare foot during the winter season. Their skin becomes as hard as a crocodile’s, and they also develop cracks on their heels and hands. It’s as if the children don’t have parents to care for them, but they do. The money they receive from the government is actually being used to cover their mothers’ gambling habits instead. The gambling goes on everyday and night that the mothers don’t even have time to be real parents to their own children.
Watching them gamble like that today, I can’t believe how close I came to almost being like them. When I was around nine or ten-years-old, I had friends who liked playing poker so much that I also started gambling. I would steal my mom’s coins from her piggy bank to go bet at the poker games. I became so addicted that I didn’t even want to do my chores at home anymore. The only thing I wanted to do was gamble. But my mother made sure that this stopped. She beat the gambling habit out of me! Just by thinking about those beatings makes my behind hurt a little. But I am so thankful she was able to knock some sense into me because if she hadn’t done that, I would be amongst these female gamblers, some of who were my old gambling friends.