Taking care of my five brothers alone

When her father died, 34-year old Angelina became a mother of five, overnight.

Claudio Fauvrelle
Mulher responsável por cinco irmãos órfãos em Moçambique
UNICEF/MOZA2012-00674/Mark Lehn
02 January 2013

Changara, TETE - About nine months ago, 34-year old Angelina became a mother of five, overnight. When her father died, he left five orphans behind, with only his adult daughter Angelina to care for them. At the time, she didn't have a job, or any formal source of income. The house she and her siblings were living in was structurally unsound. Needless to say, Angelina had her work cut out for her. But luckily, things changed for them, thanks to a government social protection programme designed to promote the social and economic inclusion of the vulnerable.

"Before, I used to do odd jobs just to be able to afford a tin of maize. Now, I am employed, and things are better," says Angelina.

The programme targets people like her, who find themselves in situations of extreme poverty but who are able to work, and refers them to income generating activities such as public works programmes.

Angelina works in a brick factory four hours every Monday through Thursday, and receives a monthly 50kg bag of rice as payment.

"I leave at 6am, and am back at 10am in time to prepare breakfast," she says. 

Angelina was also offered improvements to the house, clothing, utensils and mosquito nets, as well as birth certificates, thanks to another social programme. All this has been of invaluable help to Angelina and the children, who are between the ages of 4 and 17. But it's not easy raising such a large brood on your own.

"Maria gives me lots of problems, she does not want to go to school," says Angelina, adding that the 7-year old is currently staying with her uncle but does not want to stay there. Rosinha is 10 and appears well-cared for. She has a smile on her face and a stuffed dog in her arms, which she calls Bóbi. There still are a 14-year old girl and a 17-year old boy in the house, but the youngest one, a 4-year old girl, was placed at the Resource Centre for Inclusive Education in the city. Angelina says the girl is happy there, but this goes against government family policy of always preferring family rather than institutional placement.

Much still needs to be done for Angelina and the children for them to live a life in dignity and safety, but of all the orphans and vulnerable children in their district, less than half receive any sort of help at all. Angelina and her family are the lucky ones. In some ways, at least.