I wonder why some women choose to subject their children to unnecessary hardships!
There is this woman in her early forties, decent looking and energetic who stays under a tree with six of her eight children near Dar es Salaam's Gymkhana club. She spends the day under the tree and the nights either by the roadside just next to BP petrol station near Movenpick Hotel or in hotels when she has money.
"When I have money, we spend the nights in a hotel," she told me recently. A friend of mine asked me to talk to the woman since she could not understand why such a decent looking lady could stay under a tree! My friend thought the lady stays under the tree because that is where she normally finds her very early in the mornings on her way to work. But the truth is that she normally gets there very early in the morning.
I had seen, heard and read about this woman before, but as requested by my friend, I decided to find out for myself why she stayed under the tree.
Approaching her, I could have been forgiven for thinking she was not the woman I was looking for. With her under the tree were two decently dressed women plus her children. The two women were seated on a mat and were busy chatting with the woman under the tree. The woman in question seemed too decent to be the one I was looking for. My friend had alerted me she looked so decent to be spending days and nights under that tree.
Were it not for the children who were playing around, I would have mistaken the woman plus her guests for people enjoying the afternoon breeze.
She welcomed me warmly and after exchanging greetings, I told her who I was and what I wanted. She laughed before telling me she had had enough of us (journalists). I told her I meant well and after she introduced me to her guests, she welcomed me to sit on the mat. Within a short time, her guests, which she introduced to me as her younger sister and a friend took their leave.
To cut a long story short, the woman used to be a very good English primary school teacher, according to her and people who know her that I spoke to. She lost her job in 2003 following her mother's death after which she did not report back to work for a year. She said she could not report back to work because she had fallen ill, claiming she had been bewitched. That those who bewitched her wanted her to become a lunatic. The woman accuses her family members.
After losing her job, she engaged in business between DRC, Kenya and Tanzania. During this time, she dated men of different nationalities, some with whom she had children with. She has a child with a South African, a Zambian, a Kenyan, a Congolese etc. Of her eight children, six have different fathers each.
The first two children are in the care of their father's relatives following his demise and these are the only ones born by the same father. The remaining six stay with their mother on the street.
One wonders why such a mentally okay looking mother could choose to live a street life. Could it be because of the handouts from passers-by? During my almost five-hour stay with her during the interview, I witnessed her getting not less than 60,000/- from Good Samaritans. One man brought her kids some juice, others promised to come back and see her. Could this be what keeps her and her children under that tree? Could she be using the children to get mercy from those kind at heart?
But why deny the children the right to an education? On the tree under which the family stays is a little black board. This woman teaches her children how to read and write. She also teaches them English. But that is not enough.
Her friends and family whom she says hate and want to kill her say they just can't bear seeing their sister/friend living that kind of life. They have tried all they could to give her a decent life but in vain. They also tried to take the children away to give them a better life but the woman won't let them take them away. A friend said family members rented rooms for her and her family but she did not get along well with fellow tenants and had to go back to the streets.
When I asked her why she stays out while there are cheaper rooms, she said she can't afford to stay in a single room with all the children.
Like I said earlier she is able bodied, she can teach, she is good at handiwork (she is good at hair dressing, sewing) but she just chooses to sit under the treee with her children. She is currently breastfeeding two children at the same time. These are not twins, but one is two years old and the other is eight months old. She even delivered these two children on her own.
I initially thought she was not okay upstairs but the time I spent with her made me conclude she was not. Even her friends and family say she is not.
One wonders the kind of future she is subjecting her children to. For how long will she keep enjoying the handouts? Fortunately, a Good Samaritan recently took her to a family planning clinic where she was put on family planning. At least she can not have babies for five years, according to what she told me.