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Social cash transfer: Blackson Kalinde, grandparents responsible of four orphaned grandchildren

© UNICEF/Gaelle Sevenier/ 2007
The Blacksons and their grandchildren.

Head of household: Blackson Kalinde, grandparents responsible of four orphaned grandchildren

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

Lilongwe, December 2007 - Deepani Jinadasa. Blackson Kalinde and his wife should have been entering the time in their lives when elderly grandparents are taken care of by the younger generation. Instead they were forced to begin anew the struggle to provide for a whole family of dependents. 

Blackson, 79, and his wife Sara, 74, have 26 grandchildren. Within the past 10 years, three of their four children, along with their respective spouses, died as a result of AIDS.  Their first daughter left behind 8 children, their second daughter left 7 children, and their son, who died in 2006, left 5 children.  The orphans had nowhere to turn but to their relatives. 

 “When my children died of AIDS, there was no choice but to take care of their kids.”

Blackson and Sara became the primary caregivers for the four youngest of their grandchildren. They are responsible for feeding them everyday, providing them with clothing, carrying them to the hospital when they fall ill with malaria, and ensuring that they go to school. Yet, poverty made even the most basic of these tasks frequently unachievable.

With orphaned children to care for and advanced age making it difficult to earn an income, the Kalinde household remained firmly under the ultra poverty line, living on less than 20 cents per person per day. 

“There was not enough food to go around,” explains the grandfather. “Each one of us was able to eat only one meal a day. It was very difficult to care properly for the kids and provide them with everything that children need to grow.”

About one year ago, Blackson and his family became eligible for the social cash transfer scheme, which was being piloted in Chiti village where the Kalinde household lives.

”We are happy that people will see our life through the pictures we took.”

As a beneficiary of the scheme, Blackson receives 2,600 kwacha ($19) per month for his household. “Although it is a very small amount,” he says, “The cash transfer has helped our life a great deal.”  With the money he has been receiving over the past year, he has bought two goats and several chickens for the household – a prudent investment in assets. 

Blackson has also been able to purchase clothing, notebooks, soap, and food for the children. Each grandchild under his care is now attending school using the education bonus that beneficiary children receive through the scheme.   

“With the money I have been receiving over the past year, we bought two goats and several chickens for the household.”

Blackson explains that despite their large size the entire family eats together during meals. “There is me, my wife, our 20 orphaned grandchildren, our surviving daughter, and her 6 children.  That makes 29 of us eating from the same pot!”  





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