By Kevin Hawkins, CARE Australia
Tanzania is a nation of immense beauty, of vast Savannah plains and wide open spaces.
Yet for 25-year-old Hamida there is little room to move. Weighed down by the struggles of her life and the demands of parenthood, Hamida is stuck in a cycle of poverty.
Six months ago, Hamida gave birth to her first child. While this was a time of celebration for Hamida and her family, being a single mother means Hamida’s life just got a whole lot harder.
She lives in the same small hut with her five siblings and parents, and the financial pressures are immense. She is often out of the house working in her neighbour’s fields to earn a living, yet her income is minimal. Hamida work earns her only 3,000 shillings a day (AUD$1.90). Because she can only work two to three times a week, she is hardly able to support herself and her child.
Depending on what is available, the family only eats two to three times a day. Their diet, consisting primarily of porridge for breakfast and cornmeal and cassava leaves for dinner, is prepared with unsafe water, which regularly makes them sick; diarrhea and stomach problems are common in the family.
‘My family doesn’t have enough food,’ Hamida says. ‘If I had enough money I would buy food for them.’
But living in poverty means healthy food is not the only thing beyond their reach. Malaria medication, which costs 5,000 shillings (AUD$3.18) due to a lack of supply, is too expensive. Sufficient healthcare for Hamida’s youngest sister, who is disabled, is also unattainable.
The Zuberi family has never been part of a development project. But this is all about to change.
The Women’s Empowerment: Improving Resilience, Income and Food Security (WE-RISE) program is CARE’s latest project in Tanzania. It will combat poverty and food insecurity in the Mtwara Region, where poverty is exacerbated by inconsistent weather conditions and gender inequality.
WE-RISE is particularly focused on assisting women like Hamida who, as a single mother, is more vulnerable to food insecurity and extreme poverty.
Through Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) – local microfinance institutions that lend money and facilitate savings for vulnerable households – CARE will help empower Hamida, providing her with the financial and educational kick-start she so urgently needs.
‘Through this project I want to try and get some assistance to get more education to make my life better,’ Hamida says, smiling.