Dative Ubaruta is a 55-year-old single mother, who lives in Muko sector, Muzanze District, Rwanda with her three daughters (25, 14 and 12 years old) and three sons (22, 17 and 4 years old). The younger two daughters and 17-year-old son attend school. Dative herself completed Primary education. Her eldest daughter and son both completed Secondary school but did not have the opportunity to attend university; neither of them is currently engaged in paid work.
An ActionAid women’s economic empowerment (WEE) programme supports Dative and her colleagues with modern farming technologies, post-harvest management and market linkages. Dative walks between 30 and 45 minutes each day to reach the ActionAid farming site, and 35 minutes to reach the village market where she sells vegetables to generate income. The WEE programme does not provide any childcare services, and as such she carries her youngest son to work and to the market, or leaves him with his siblings. Dative also works as a counsellor in her village but she is not paid because it is voluntary work. Her role in the advisory service includes helping families, and in particular women, to solve their problems and family conflicts.
Dative is a single mother and therefore she is solely responsible for doing the care activities for the home: ‘Since I have no husband to help me take care of many children I have; I have responsibility for taking care of my family alone.’ Her 17-year-old son, Habiyambere Donat, helps her with some care tasks. There is an ongoing water shortage in Dative’s village and the children support her to fetch water from the next village. They also feed the livestock, and chop wood, especially in the evening after school.
Dative finds it hard to combine paid work and care work; she says,
‘Combining paid and unpaid work is difficult; however, since I live alone, I have to do both though it is hard work.’
However, her children are happy because Dative works and can support them financially. Habiyambere Donat, Datove’s son explains, ‘My mother takes care of us, giving us whatever we need. She pays school for all of us, buys uniforms, and other school materials. When my mother is at home, she cooks and this makes me happy.’ Despite this, he feels that Dative is overwhelmed by combining these activities:
‘My mother is the one who looks after us; she is much overloaded. In fact, after cultivating, she does care work and does not have any time to rest.’
Dative would like non-governmental organisations to help her get microcredit, which would enable her to expand her business, as well as help her to get access to the market for her produce. She would like the government to provide piped water in her village.