Seventeen-year-old Amélia is a young mother from a poor family, who prematurely left school to get married as a strategy to escape poverty. Her actions were driven by desperation, and her vulnerability exacerbated by her orphan status; as is common with many other girls her age in the Mozambican territory rural areas.
Unfortunately, what she thought was going to be an escape from her miserable situation was a kind of short-lived sunshine for Amélia, as any signs of care from her 26 year-old boyfriend only happened during their dating phase. Heartbroken, she narrates: “He abandoned me when I became pregnant and I've never had contact with him again. I learned that he was in the business of looking for a job in South Africa but we've never spoken again,” adding that her boyfriend's family members never provided her the necessary support.
Today without any source of income to support her only son, Amélia lives with her older sister –also unemployed and a single mother of two girls– after the house they inherited from their deceased parents and where they lived at Búzi District, Sofala Province, was swept away by the violent floods that followed Cyclone Idai.
“It was difficult because when the cyclone came, I was still in the first month of my pregnancy and everything was looking strange to me”, recalls Amélia, who in the accompany of some neighbours sought refuge in the building blocks belonging to another other neighbour. The teenage mother stayed there for more than 10 days, with severe water and food restrictions, as everything was washed away by the floods.
After that sad episode, Amélia and the other people she was with were sheltered at the transit centre at the headquarters of the Locality of Inharrongue, Búzi; where they benefited from food assistance, as well as other non-food items.
However, the even more challenging moment for Amélia was yet to come. Months later she gave birth to her young son Helton, now eight months old."Today I have to be a mother and father at the same time, assuming all the expenses, although sometimes I can count with the help of my sister".
Amélia used to divide her sparse capulanas (type of a sarong commonly worn by women in Mozambique) into several pieces to use as diapers for her newborn: "Several times, he got irritated because the capulana diapers I used were not absorbent", she explains.
Things took a turn for the better when Amélia received a large volume of disposable and reusable diapers, milk, cerelac, several hygiene items, cornstarch, some garments, and other products, to relieve victims of Cyclone Idai in a partnership between World Vision and UNICEF.
“It was a sense of relief when I was chosen to benefit from this humanitarian aid. Today my little boy grows well and healthy because he has food for his age, ”says Amélia, adding that although she is grateful, she is still facing some difficulties to provide her little boy; especially now because of the restrictions imposed by COVID-19. She's almost no longer doing the odd jobs that guaranteed her family income.
Amélia's family, made up of five members, depends on humanitarian aid and small vegetable gardens that surround her backyard.
Amélia's family story is one of a multitude of family challenges similar to that of the families of most adolescent survivors of Cyclone Idai in her community. Families like hers are today faced with an incredibly tough challenge in the novel coronavirus global pandemic.
Around 3,750 children are directly benefiting from the World Vision and UNICEF partnership that among several humanitarian actions, includes psychosocial support, community-based protection, and case management.
In our report COVID-19 Aftershocks: Access Denied we look at how Teenage pregnancy threatens to block one million girls, like Telma, from returning to school in Sub-Saharan Africa. Click here to learn more.
By: Lourino Pelembe, World Vision Mozambique Communications Officer