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I wonder, belatedly, if my decision to accept an invitation to a UN-sponsored media conference is wise.As the plane touches down at Harare International I recall how somebody has just been arrested for the "crime" of describing the 86-year-old president as an "old man".But the "unity government" formed in February last year has, for now, survived, and I am risking a return home. The MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, now Prime Minister to Robert Mugabe's President in the power-sharing government, is among those who reassure me I will be safe.But Roy Bennett, the MDC MP, broke his exile on the strength of similar assurances only to end up sharing a cell with the uncollected corpses of prisoners.

An Albino child, centre, joins marchers on the streets of Harare during belated World Albinism Awareness Day in the capital Harare, Saturday, June, 18, 2016.

An Albino woman looks at herself in the mirror after getting her make up done during belated World Albinism Awareness Day in the capital Harare, Saturday, June, 18, 2016.

(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi) Members of the Albino community talks with colleagues during belated World Albinism Awareness Day in the capital Harare, Saturday, June, 18, 2016.

(AP Photo/ Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)"The only thing we managed to save is that suitcase with a few clothes," said Joice Ncube, another villager.

Like Mkwananzi, she is now housed at a camp where survivors are crammed in tents and plastic shelters and survive on charity."We have between 850 to 900 people here.

I’d never imagined traveling to Africa, or even wondered what life must be like there. Before then, I was a typical twelve‑year‑old American girl, far more interested in what I should wear to school than what I might learn there.

I had no idea, and that was all the more exciting—like the beginning of an adventure.“That’s the one I want,” I said. I assumed most kids, regardless of where they lived, had lives similar to mine.

As Alifirenka began to learn more about the poverty that Martin faced on a daily basis, her perceptions of her own world began to change."He was actually dealing with real-life problems and poverty and my friends here were upset if they couldn't get the new Spice Girls CD," Alifirenka told s Robin Young. ”“Zim‑BOB‑way,” she said, sounding it out like it was three words. I had a hunch it was there, but couldn’t name any other countries on the continent.

Alifirenka and her family ended up becoming deeply embroiled in the lives of Martin and his family. She usually had to call on me to participate.“How do you pronounce the last country? I had a good handle on Europe, as my family had gone to Germany the summer before to visit my dad’s relatives.

So now, nearly nine years on, as the captain tells the crew to prepare for landing my heart is pounding.

In the years of my exile, Zimbabwe has been dragged through bloody violence, economic collapse and political chaos.

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