By Esther Kamau of Breakthrough Foundation.
In Ethiopia, the desperate are called “those who cook water”; in Ghana they are called “those with two bags”, one for begging in the hungry season and the other for begging in the season of plenty. They are the ones trapped in the vicious circle of poverty; the orphans, the homeless widows, the exploited and abused girls, the disabled, the old and the sick. They are the powerless, the socially excluded and the invisibles. On a continent where welfare systems are either non-existent or unable yet to cope with the numbers, the worst off are the children, youth and women.
Take Njeri for example. When her parents died of Aids when she was only 10 years old, her uncle took her in. Yet he showed her only cruelty, selling off the bit of land her father had left her and treating her like a servant. As Njeri did not go to school, she had little hope of ever having a decent life. She was a typical candidate for the “poverty that lays eggs” as Zimbabweans call it, probably ending up selling her body for food, becoming pregnant and giving birth to a child with little prospect of doing any better. Njeri left her uncle’s home for what she hoped would be a better life on the harsh streets of Nairobi. Luckily she was found by Breakthrough Foundation’s partners in Kenya. She is now being looked after and goes to school.
That story of vulnerability is one of millions being played out each day in Sub Saharan Africa and many do not have a happy ending. But we can all take someone by the hand, show them caring and give them the tools to become the economic and driving force in their countries. You can do that too by showing your support to the T4A member charities that are making a real difference to the lives of thousands and thousands of vulnerable people in Sub Saharan Africa. You’ll be surprised how little it costs to make a big impact.