Korogwe 2, Tanga

Case study

Mama Maria

Maria’s successful balance of family life and running a restaurant
CS12 Tanzania
I participate in the community activities like funerals, weddings and meetings because I want to build good relationship with my fellow community members to help others so that when I have a problem or a happy occasion they will also come and help me.

Mama Maria (27 years old) lives in a nuclear family of three in Korogwe District, Tanzania with her five-year-old daughter and her 30-year-old husband. She is self-employed in her house and works for 12 hours a day. Her highest level of education is Primary. Her daughter doesn’t yet attend school. Mama Maria shares a compound with her sister, Dada Maria, and her biological mother, who both participate and contribute to the income-generating activities that Mama Maria does. Dada Maria has a husband and children who also stay in this household.

Mama Maria’s paid work contributes towards buying food and basic items for her family. She sells food in her restaurant to make money. She does a lot of the tasks at home that include: sweeping the compound, fetching water, mopping the house, washing clothes, cooking food, bathing children and fetching firewood. She feels good about her paid work at home. She easily bargains with her sister Dada Maria to take over the home responsibilities so that she is able to do her paid work. The family is happy that Mama Maria raises some income to support the children and everyone in the household. Some of the time, Mama Maria does not feel the effect of doing care activities on her paid work.

Dada Maria helps with the cooking, washing dishes, fetching water, fetching firewood, and sweeping the house. She gets support from the children, who help to fetch water. Dada Maria decides about the care arrangements when Mama Maria is not at home, and she replaces Mama Maria by doing all her care tasks at home. Their mother also contributes to fetching firewood and cooking. Dada Maria’s husband helps to fetch firewood and cuts it into small pieces for easy use. Dada Maria encourages Mama Maria to go far for paid work. Mama Maria thinks in the future she could also sell rice, tomatoes, yams, onions, and clothes as paid work activities:

Cooking rice takes my time. Fetching water also takes much time because I might go to the tap and find a long queue and then I have to wait until it is my turn to fetch water. Fetching firewood takes much time because we go to find the wood far from home.

Mama Maria is happy that her paid work enables her to buy food, pay for health services, buy clothes and contribute to school fees. She also participates in community activities, however this affects her paid work as it can result in her opening the restaurant very late and missing customers earlier in the day. Some days she decides not to fetch water or firewood because she wants to open her restaurant early to raise some income. In order to balance paid work and care work, the children help at home, however this makes her uncomfortable as the children don’t get the opportunity to enjoy rest and play with other children.

I participate in the community activities like funerals, weddings and meetings because I want to build good relationship with my fellow community members to help others so that when I have a problem or a happy occasion they will also come and help me. 

She sometimes gets very tired from the care activities and when there is a lot to be done at home, she opens the restaurant late. Dada Maria is very supportive in home care activities so that Mama Maria can increase her income to sustain the whole family. She mentions that their mother also provides support in other activities. Dada Maria says her sister’s work selling food at the restaurant is acceptable as it is regarded as respectful work. Dada Maria manages the household care responsibilities because she distributes the activities amongst the children, reducing on the workload.

Dada Maria is happy about her sister’s paid work because she supports her children. She is, however, concerned that she faces a lot of challenges such as customers eating without paying and a lack of regular customers, thus making losses: ‘She does not get sleep because of being too tired from paid and unpaid activities. She does not get time to rest and she gets headaches from being too tired’, says Dada Maria. Cooking, looking after the kids and fetching water are the biggest activities that affect Mama Maria’s work. However, the children provide adequate support and the young ones do not have problems since Dada Maria and their grandmother are available to provide support. Thus Mama Maria feels comfortable to go to work because there are people to look after her children.

My care responsibilities increase from August and October to December because this season is religious festival season like Eid and Christmas and it is the harvest season so there is a lot to be done at home, at the farm and also to the paid work. 

Mama Maria believes that getting a house helper will reduce her burden of care work at home. She suggests that the community should form groups to help each other with activities, for example, working together on each other’s gardens which would help everyone to save time. Also she comments that the government should provide low interest rate loans to enable her to renovate and improve her restaurant to attract more customers. The government should provide water services, electricity and build a hospital in the community to reduce time in travel and reduce fees. Mama Maria would like there to be provisions such as a hand wash facility and other resources for the business to better operate.

About Mama Maria

Household (Extended)
Male headed
1 children
Contains male(s)
No care responsibilties for disabled people
No migrant(s)
No care responsibilties for older people
Children caring
Family/community support
Paid care
Public services
Towards a double boon
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Activities shown are a single day snapshot in the life of the woman.