Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Poverty removes choices and creates challenges

This uneducated woman married young. She had three children and has little family or financial help. After the third child was born, her husband became mentally ill and no longer could help in any way. Since then he has lived with his parents as he has a wild and destructive nature now.  When she is home he comes and asks her for funds for smoking and pocket money. Fortunately he doesn't drink.

As she is uneducated she collected recyclable materials locally. While her husband was well and did some farming and building work, they could just make ends meet. Since he has been ill she has had to work far from home to earn enough to support her children. CEF provides sponsorships for her two girls which helps relieve some of the financial burden.

Until we talked to her about the children being vulnerable on their own with no adult, and gave cases of abused children in the same situation, she didn't care about this. It never had occurred to her that they were vulnerable as it is such a normal situation among the poor.

This challenge now tears her up as she can't make ends meet locally and care for her children, their wellbeing and their education. Living far away she can earn a great deal more, make ends meet except for the girls education, but can't care for them.

Now she calls them each evening to check on them and remind them to do homework and once it is done, then go over to a relative's home to sleep.

Sadly her situation is common. Many children are left alone for days and are both uncared for, and vulnerable to abuse especially by local men after special occasions, when plied with alcohol. She knows this but feels she has no choice.  Unfortunately this is what we hear frequently from the families with only one person earning and no other relatives living at home.

We recently did several workshops for grandparents, parents and children on child sexual abuse. They were taught about what child sexual abuse is, why it happens, how it happens, how to avoid it and emergency numbers to call. On home visits we check with families if they have any questions, and talk about the safety of their children if they are leaving them on their own at all. Most are left on their own for long periods each day unfortunately. We hope that the information we have shared will help protect the children.  

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