– 10 January 2019
Family strengthening as a way out of hardship
Samuel Musakasa, a father of eight in Harare, Zimbabwe, lost his job after an accident. The family was no longer able to meet the children’s basic needs. SOS Children’s Villages helped the family to find a way forward so that Samuel’s children have better chances in life.
Samuel Musakasa, 46, had a well laid out plan for his life. He would continue working as a long-distance truck driver until he completed his house in rural Zimbabwe, and then move his family there from the rented home where they lived in the low-income suburb of Chitungwiza, outside the capital Harare.
But a tragic accident changed his life and his plans in one instance. In 2015, Samuel had a car accident that left him with a broken hip.
“I lost my job soon after that accident, because with a weak hip I cannot drive heavy-duty trucks,” says Samuel. “I had worked for five years and I was comfortably meeting my obligations as provider for my family. And the house I was building for them was almost complete.”
Samuel was the primary income earner, losing his job put his family on an economic roller coaster. What was once normal, like butter on bread for breakfast every morning, suddenly became a luxury. The family had to make drastic changes.
Loss of stability
As a father of eight children, Samuel did not know how the family would survive or how he would explain the sudden change in circumstances to his children. And, as he grieved about unemployment, money problems deepened, forcing him into action.
Samuel says he approached the SOS family strengthening team for support with feelings of shame and disgrace. Never had he ever imagined that a time would come for him to ask for this kind of help. The SOS team assessed his situation and enrolled the family for support, and also encouraged Samuel to believe in himself and in his ability to get back on his feet again.
Samuel at his clothing store.
“I have come to accept my situation but it was not easy,” says Samuel. “The SOS team taught my wife and I how to run a business so that when the support stops we can survive on our own.”
In the entrepreneurship class, Samuel learned how to manage funds and run a profitable business. He received compensation from his former employer and started buying and selling second-hand clothes. He launched his business with US$700.
“I found the knowledge about microfinance very useful,” he says about the entrepreneurship training. “We recently borrowed our third loan of US$1,500 and paid it off. We injected this money into the business to grow and expand it.”
Education for the children
The family now lives off the income from the business – about US$350 per month. Life has greatly improved for the family. Samuel still cannot afford to meet all the expenses, but SOS Children’s Villages is paying half the school fees for five of his children, so the family is doing much better.
“The SOS team came to help us during our most difficult days,” says Joseph*, Samuel’s second-born son. “I was sent away from class for lack of fees and it was the saddest experience of my life. We are now able to go to school and learn well without being sent home and that is a good feeling.”
Joseph was turned away from school because his father was not able to afford the school fees.
The family strengthening team works with households to ensure caregivers are able to provide at least the basic essentials for their children, so the next generation of citizens is empowered to live a productive life and avoid being ensnared by poverty.
A role model in the community
Samuel’s success has inspired neighbours engaged in petty trading but with little knowledge of managing a business. “They wonder how we manage to run ours and keep it growing,” says Samuel. “We have been generous to share the information we acquired during training, and given them books on how to run a successful business,” he says.
“I have a vision to upgrade my shop from selling old to new clothes and to keep up with new trends – for me, the sky is the limit.”
*Name changed for privacy protection
Photos by Tom Maruko