Meet Aziza*, 15 years old. She is the third child from a family of five. She is from Burundi and is a mother of one child (4 months). Before coming to Mwanza, Aziza was living with her both parents and siblings. They were farmers.
Aziza came over the border to Mwanza (in Tanzania) five years ago when she was 10 years old, and started working as the house help in a family. She worked for this family for 5 years. She became pregnant at 15, and was kicked out of the house. The man who got her pregnant took her to his mother, but she was severely abused by the mother and her sister in law which gave her no option but to go to the streets, as life was so hard for her and her unborn child. “I was not eating properly, my mother in law beat me regularly,” said Aziza.
In July 2021, Aziza was identified by Cheka Sana Tanzania on street outreach. By then she was 6 months pregnant. Cheka Sana’s team supported her off the streets and found her temporary shelter with a Fit Person (a community member trained to offer short-term support and accommodation, similar to fostering) while Cheka Sana’s counsellors worked with her intensively to understand her needs and expectations. She was provided with wraparound support including psychosocial one to one sessions, health services (including pre natal and post natal care), life skills in different topics such as sexual reproductive health, mediation, and gender based-violence. These sessions helped her to build her self-esteem as well as self-defence skills, to protect herself against violence. “Now I know my rights and responsibilities as a girl child, and how to take care of myself” said Aziza.
In October 2021, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl at Mwanza Regional Hospital and CST paid for all the services, as well as providing her with baby clothes and other needs. “I thank CST for all the help and services provided to me from when they first met me up to now. Now I am a mother with different skills and knowledge, I am so honoured as I am from another country but still they took me in and helped me” said Aziza. She also said that her plan for the future is to be a small entrepreneur so that she can be able to provide for her child.
After delivering her baby, Aziza decided she wanted to go back to her family after 5 years. Since she is from Burundi, Cheka Sana will be working together with Burundian NGO New Generation (another Amos Trust partner) to look for her family and help manage the reunification process. Although there are many steps left and the process will be challenging, Aziza is optimistic. “My life is changing from a challenging life to a promising life”.