Christina has four biological children - Frank, 14, Elizabeth, 12, Aron, nine, and Marko, eight. She also takes care of Mohamed Jiji, a seven year old boy who has lost both his parents. After her husband left the family suddenly, her life changed drastically. Despite setting up a business selling oranges on the streets of Mwanza, she was unable to turn a profit, could not feed her children and eventually lost the family home.
Seeing the difficult situation that Christina was in, a neighbour offered their second home for the family to live in. "At least we now had a roof over our heads," she says, "but we still only ate one meal a day, and sometimes nothing at all. My children couldn’t go to school as I had no money. I felt terrible".
When SOS Social Workers learnt about the family’s situation in 2010, Christina was enrolled onto the SOS Family Strengthening Programme. The programme provided many different types of support for the family, including counselling. Christina took courses on childcare and began a programme of lessons about running a successful business, teaching her skills from developing a business plan to accounting and financial forecasting.
As a result of the business training she received, Christina decided to change her business from selling oranges to selling more profitable sweet potatoes. She received a micro-credit loan to build her enterprise and soon began to make a significant profit. "SOS Children restored my hope," she says. "I was confident that I could achieve more and get out of the poverty cycle for good."
One day, the owner of the house where Christina and her family were staying visited to inform her that he wanted to sell the house. Christina enquired how much he wanted for it, and if he would be prepared to sell it to her. He laughed, thinking it was a joke. "I didn’t feel intimidated," she says. "I was no longer as poor as I had been to start with, and I offered to pay in instalments." The house cost US $3,000, and by July 2012, Christina had paid it all.
Thanks to the programme, all of her children were able to start school immediately. Christina can pay the school contributions herself, and can afford to take them to hospital if they are sick. They now have three good meals a day and even grow vegetables in their own garden.
Christina says: "Sometimes, we’re afraid to try things because we think we don’t have enough money in the bank, but there I was, with my few savings, and I was able to buy the land and the house. It’s like a miracle to me and my family.”
Read more about our Family Strengthening Programmes, which help families to stay together in difficult circumstances.