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Social Cash Transfer: Rita Nelson, disabled single mother with five children.

© UNICEF/Gaelle Sevenier/2007
Rita Nelson and her children.

Head of household: Rita Nelson, disabled single mother with five children

Social cash transfer assistance: 2,600 kwacha per month ($19)

Lilongwe, December 2007 - Gaelle Sevenier. “I cannot walk properly” says the young mother, Rita Nelson, pointing at her foot. It is completely bent on its side at a very awkward angle. “A few years ago, I was bitten by a big snake. I could not pay for the doctor. Since then my foot has been paralyzed.”

Due to her injury, Rita is not able to work in her garden. Single mother of five children, including two sets of twins, Rita Nelson could not provide enough food, clothing or blankets for her household. She and her children all slept on mats on a dirt floor.

In her youth, Rita was a bright girl who enjoyed going to school. When she had her first child at age 19, though, she had to drop out and was not able to complete her secondary education.

Shortly after the second set of twins were born, her husband divorced her and left for another woman. She was left to care for five young children on her own. To make ends meet, she did piece work by shelling groundnuts. Despite her hard work, she was only able to feed her family one proper meal a day.

“I am very grateful to whoever is leading the scheme. I did not even have enough soap to wash my babies with.”

When she was informed that she was going to become the beneficiary of a social cash transfer, Rita could not believe her hears.

“I was so happy to become a beneficiary,” admits the single mother. “This meant that my children were going to eat every day.”

Each child is now attending school using the education bonus from the scheme.    With the money, Rita invested in a pig, which has since given birth to four piglets. She also bought fertilizer for her garden and hired four men to work on her garden. This year, the household harvested 10 bags of maize, all for personal consumption. This is the best year they ever had.
“The children are able to eat three times a day. Here they are preparing to go to school.”  

The cash transfer scheme not only allows Rita to take care of the necessities of daily life, but also to plan and invest in longer term goals.

“I now have cement floors in the two bedrooms of my new house so we don’t have to sleep on the dirt anymore.”

The disabled mother also purchased a bicycle, which she uses for transportation. Before, her lack of mobility made it impossible to travel away from the house. Today Rita and her children have widened their opportunities in life and are able to plan for a better future.





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The direct impact of Social Cash Transfer on the lives of ultra poor families in Malawi


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