Rose Kanyana is a 42-year-old single mother who lives in Simbi sector, Huye District, Rwanda with her four children: two daughters (aged 16 and 5) and two sons (aged 13 and 7). Two of her children go to school; however, Rose struggles to afford the school fees, and because of this it is most likely that one of them will have to drop out. Rose’s highest level of education is lower Secondary school. She has some health problems because she suffers from renal disease, hepatitis and HIV, which affects her ability to do regular paid and care work.
Rose is a beneficiary of the Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP), a poverty reduction programme initiated by the Government of Rwanda, but she does not regularly go to work because she suffers from these chronic diseases. The VUP is the main source of income from which she can earn money to manage her family. Her eldest daughter replaces her at the VUP when she is sick. Apart from the VUP, Rose seeks paid work from neighbours in their fields, which her daughter starts and Rose helps with when she is physically able to. The money she earns is insufficient to cover some basic living costs, in particular the upkeep of her house, which is currently in need of repair.
Rose has overall responsibility for the household’s care activities. She takes care of her children, washes clothes, digs in her small garden, fetches water, washes dishes, cleans, collects firewood, and cooks. She explains that she finds it difficult to do the care work because it involves many activities at the same time. Collecting firewood and fetching water are the most time-consuming: it is necessary to walk a long distance looking for firewood because there is no forest or bush close to their house, and there is no public provision of access to water. However, it is Rose’s daughter who does most of the care activities because Rose is regularly sick. The other children also help with the care activities.
Rose combines both paid work and care activities but finds it extremely challenging because of her illnesses. She spends at least eight hours a day at work when she goes to the VUP site. She walks a long distance to reach the site – up to one hour – and this means that she wakes up very early in the morning and returns home in the evening. This weakens her physically because she is already chronically ill. In addition, she is required to take care of her children; balancing paid and unpaid work for her is incredibly challenging. Therefore, Rose’s eldest daughter replaces her for paid work when necessary and is involved in most care activities. This has affected her performance at school because she regularly does not attend in order to help her sick mother. In addition, she does not get time for leisure activities.
Rose would like the VUP to increase its wages and also change its payment system to daily or weekly, instead of a monthly payment. She would also like to work half a day (the morning only) for the VUP and rest in the afternoon so that she can recover her full energy and have time to take care of her children. She would like the government to establish Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) schools to help children who have left school, including her own. In addition, she would like to be able to afford to send her children to a better school.