Fatuma is a young child who attends the day center at Msaranga parish. She started attending the day center this year. She is adorable and her mother loves her dearly. Her mother has faithfully attended the day center every day with Fatuma in order to properly perform physical therapy and give Fatuma the nutrition that her body so greatly needs.
Fatuma lives with her mother and father in a multi-family dwelling that is located close to the day center. She has two older brothers and one older sister. Her family also lives with some extended relatives. Her grandmother is still alive, but she is very ill. She lives with Fatuma’s family and the extended relatives all work together to pay for her medical bills.
Neither Fatuma’s father nor mother has employment at this point. Fatuma’s father works seasonal hard labor jobs in fields or transporting random items to and from the market via wheelbarrow. He makes less than the Tanzanian average monthly income, which is 60,000 Tanzanian Shillings, or about $40.y
Fatuma is five years old. Due do being extremely malnourished, she weighs about 16 pounds. When she started attending the day center earlier this year, she weighed only 9 pounds. Thanks to nutritious meals offered by BCC, she has been able to almost double her weight in about one year!
She has also been able to benefit from BCC’s relationship with CCBRT, an organization that provides physical therapy for children with disabilities and trains parents to provide needed therapies at an incredibly low cost. Thanks to this relationship, Fatuma was able to attend CCBRT’s week of intensive care where she received intense physical therapies and her mother learned how to provide the therapies at home.
Fatuma’s health has greatly increased over the past year; however, she is still severely malnourished and she still becomes sick often. Her family often has to choose between paying the hospital bills and eating. This means that Fatuma does not get to see a doctor as often as she needs. Every time Fatuma or her grandmother falls ill, the family takes a gamble to see if their malnourished bodies can recover on their own. If they cannot recover from the illness on their own, Fatuma becomes more malnourished because her family must pay the hospital bill instead of paying for food. It seems as though they are stuck in a never-ending cycle.
Yet, there is hope for Fatuma and her family. As we have discussed in previous blog postings, BCC is working to develop a second bag cooperative that will work as a social business to financially sustain BCC and provide meaningful employment to caregivers of children with disabilities. Fatuma’s mother is one of the individuals who will be employed by the cooperative. This will mean an increase in income for Fatuma’s family and an increase in available funds for food and medical bills for Fatuma.
As shown in Fatuma’s story, employment of caregivers of children served by BCC is an opportunity for their entire family escape the cycle of extreme poverty. It also represents a much needed hope for their future.