Families who already had low incomes or struggled to make ends meet have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Limited access to jobs and resources, along with a lack of educational opportunities, are just some of the issues that many families must deal with during this difficult time.
Tia*, a participant from the SOS Mozambique Family Strengthening Program, shares how her family is surviving.
“My mother has come home early again from the roadside market where she sells vegetables. This is not ordinary for me. For many years, she came home after dark every day, but the coronavirus has changed everything. My family is well, though the virus has increased the hardship in our lives.
“My name is Tia*. I live in Chimoio, Mozambique, with my mother, three sisters and two brothers. I am 13 years old and the third born.
“I would like my mother to stay at home so she is safe from the disease, but we depend on her income to survive. These days she sells three times a week. I heard in the news on our radio that people should stay a metre and a half apart to be safe. To keep this distance, the women at the market cannot sell at the same time like before. They trade in turns on alternating days; now my mother is struggling to feed all six of us because her earnings have reduced.
“She rations the food in the house so we have something to eat when she is not working. We can no longer afford to buy rice, fish and sugar. For breakfast, we eat leftovers from the night before but there are no more leftovers and so no breakfast. Due to hunger, my mother cannot breastfeed my small brother and without enough food at home, there is no happiness. Mum plans to plant sweet potatoes here in our yard, which will provide us with much needed relish and breakfast.
“During the day when my mother is away, I watch my two small sisters and two-year-old brother, clean the house, sweep the compound and draw water from the well. I used to carry the baby on my back as I went to fetch water, and my younger sisters would come along to help. But I have stopped bringing them with me because they might catch the disease. Coronavirus is complicating everything. I have even stopped going to my friend’s house to play with them. We jumped rope, played mata mata (a lined square drawn in the dirt with stones used as play pieces) and watched Nigerian movies.
“The government has said that schools can reopen slowly. It is good considering that I have been at home for too long. I have lost much time and skipped many out-of-class lessons, as I do not have access to online learning or a television. My mother had planned to save money to put electricity in our two-room house and she hired a man to do the wiring. I was happy about better lighting especially for homework. Without money now, there is no hope for electricity and the wires are just hanging on the walls. We use my sister’s phone torch for light at night.
“My greatest worry is losing my family members to the infection. My mother deals with many people at the market, which exposes her to the virus. I am worried that if my mother caught the virus and died, we would be orphaned.”
*Name changed to protect the privacy of the child.
Tia’s family receives education support from the SOS Family Strengthening Program. SOS Children’s Villages Mozambique is protecting hundreds of vulnerable children and families from contracting COVID-19, by providing them with the information they need to know to keep themselves safe.
SOS Children’s Villages’ COVID-19 Response in Mozambique
- The six program locations have also set-up their respective teams which are developing COVID-19 preparedness and response plan.
- The national office and program locations have started awareness raising sessions in all the SOS family houses and youth homes. Hand washing stations or materials, along with hand washing information, is available at all SOS workplaces and family homes.
- To limit the number of people entering program locations, visits have been postponed and only essential staff are allowed to be present. All trips have been cancelled for the next 30 days.
- An e-mail communication group was established to regularly share information and preventive actions taken.