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In 1992, SOS Children's Villages established an emergency relief programme in Tete when the harvest failed because of drought throughout southern Africa. Since then, the programme has been repeated annually with the aid focused on children suffering from malnutrition, mothers and pregnant women. An outreach programme for children in neighbouring villages was set up in 1995 which provides day care and regular meals for over one hundred small children … more about our charity work in Mozambique

Anisia’s story - Supporting child-headed households in Mozambique

Anisia (left) and her family
Anisia (left) and her family

Child headed households are common in Mozambique, where economic migration and illness leave children parentless. SOS Children run Family Strengthening Programmes which reach out to families such as Anisia’s*, in desperate circumstances. This is her story, in her own words.

"I am the second born in the family and I have one older brother and two young sisters. My father went to work in South Africa, and has never come back. Life wasn’t so bad because mum always made sure we had a minimum way of living. However, since 2008 she fell very ill with tuberculosis** and our lives changed.

It became difficult for us to have three meals a day and my brother and I could not to go to school every day because we did not have money for the bus fare. Some neighbours, seeing our suffering, told my mother about SOS Children. Mum went there and they offered us the chance to become part of their Family Strengthening Programme.

My mum was given medical assistance and a food parcel for all of us. They helped us to go to school by giving us school materials and uniforms. When mum got better she started her own business as part of an income generating programme organised by the Family Strengthening Programme, and our lives got better.

However, suddenly mum fell ill again, and her business failed. She stayed in hospital for a year, but she was not recovering and ran away to come back home. She was so ill that we did not think that she would live. I got back in touch with SOS Children and ask if they would help us again.

SOS Children explained that the illness could be spread to us, so they took mum back to the hospital. Today my mum is still at the hospital but she is getting better.

I chose to begin a vocational training course to learn hairdressing to help my family and life began to change. With the money I make I can buy bread for my sisters and my brother and pay their bus fares so they can go to school. I can also use the money to go to the hospital to visit my mother.

I thank everyone who helps us through SOS Children. Since mum fell ill, none of my relatives have even come to visit us; but people who are not even our relatives have thought about us and supported us through SOS Children. I hope they can continue supporting other Mozambicans because there are many children who are still suffering."

Anisia’s household is one of 24,000 child-headed households in Mozambique. You can read how SOS are supporting children and families in the community to stay together and provide for their needs here.

*Anisia’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

**Anisia's mother has actually been diagnosed with HIV rather than tuberculosis, but she has chosen not to tell her children this.