Mawarire shot to prominence last year in July when thousands of workers heeded his call to stay away from work in protest over the falling standards of living and economic decay blamed on President Robert Mugabe’s government.
He was arrested on charges he claimed were fanciful before relocating his family to the US until February.
“My family is safe away from this country. When I went overseas, I left them there and I think for me, that is the only consolation I have that they are safe,” he told the Daily News in an exclusive interview that will be published on Sunday.
“It’s very difficult to be away from my family. I miss my wife and my children and my newest daughter has grown up and doesn’t know me, and I think that’s the price that we have to pay to be able to get the kind of freedoms that we are looking for.
“Many people paid that same price when they went to war in the 60s and the 70s and I think our generation has to also face the fact that the kind of freedom we want for our nation is going to come at a price.
“And we have to start paying that price and this is part of it, not being with my family,” added the cleric.
His absence after he fled to the US drew condemnation from supporters, who accused him of abandoning them when his leadership was needed.
“I think when I did leave; it did slow the momentum or the movement.
“I think we can’t run away from that, people had an expectation, and you know when people are desperate and something looks like it’s going in the direction of their expectations, they really want it to work, and I have always said to people that, had I been in their shoes, I would have possibly been as disappointed as they were when I left.
“But I also think that if they were in my shoes, they would have understood why I made the decision that I made at the time.
“My wife and children had been threatened, my wife was pregnant, and I really wanted to make sure that my daughter was born well, and that I spend some time with her before I came back, and one of the things that I’m excited about is that I fulfilled my promise of coming back home to Zimbabwe,” Mawarire told the Daily News.