Through Their Eyes

Jacob from Pasua

Jacob is a 9 year old boy who attends the day center program at Pasua.  He started attending the program in 2008, which is when the Pasua center began.  Jacob’s family learned about the BCC program through a center worker who visited his home to explain the program.  The center worker had to work carefully and mindfully to get Jacob’s mother to take him to the day center because Jacob is from the Masai tribe.

The center worker found out that Jacob’s father had passed away earlier that year.  In Masai culture, if the father dies, the older brother marries her and is responsible for her.  Jacob’s stepfather was not a very kind man to Jacob or his mother.  The stepfather has many wives and he views Jacob and his mother as an unwanted obligation.  Also, in Masai culture, the men control all of the money.  They keep the money and give some to their wives on a rare and inconsistent basis.  The stepfather does not give much money to the mother for food and she does not work because she has to take care of the children.  It creates a difficult situation for the family.

The stepfather does not live with Jacob’s mother.  One time last year, the stepfather visited Dar es Salaam and he did not notify the family.  He was gone for over two weeks and he did not give any money to Jacob’s mother for food for her family.  Fortunately, Jacob’s mother volunteers with the Pasua church.  As payment for her volunteering, the church lets her live on their premises rent free in a one room apartment.  Jacob is able to attend the BCC day center because it is also on the church property.

To financially assist Jacob’s mother, BCC gave her a microcredit loan.  Masai women make beaded jewelry.  Sometimes they sell the jewelry to visitors and Tanzanian citizens.  Jacob’s mother is now beading with several other women and has the possibility of growing their business into another BCC cooperative.  The beading group is successful, but because all of the women who are working there have difficult situations, such as Jacob’s mother, it will be hard to turn them into a successful business.

While Jacob’s mother has received an increase in income from the bead work, she does not have enough to pay for Jacob’s medical bills.  Jacob cannot feed himself and he frequently becomes sick with pneumonia.  He also regularly develops a chronic cough and contracts malaria frequently.  When he becomes ill, his mother has to ask the stepfather for money and oftentimes he refuses to give her money for a doctor visit.

Jacob has received a wheelchair from BCC and he receives physical therapy from CCBRT in the BCC center.  Unfortunately, those have been the only real changes with Jacob over the past 3 years.  His father does not support the family and his mother does not make enough money to pay for healthcare.  If the microcredit loan continues to work, Jacob’s mother may be able to afford more, but until then, things will continue to be tough for Jacob.

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