Claudine Uwera is a 40-year-old mother of seven children, who lives in Mbazi sector, Huye District, Rwanda. She has five boys (aged 19, 12, 8, 5 and 4 years old) and two daughters (aged 17 and 15 years old). She has separated from her husband, and lives with her youngest son and eldest daughter while the others live with their father. Those children living with her ex-husband visit occasionally. The two children who live with her attend school. Claudine herself studied to the end of Primary school.
Claudine grows food crops such as maize, beans, bananas and sweet potatoes on her small piece of land. Sometimes she also does farming work for other people and construction work to earn income to support her family. The income she earns is insufficient to satisfy all her family’s needs but she can pay the school fees for her daughter, and buy food products. Unfortunately, her divorced husband does not support her or their children financially which makes life difficult.
Claudine does care work for the household such as cleaning the compound, washing clothes, cooking, fetching water, farming, and taking care of her children. She is supported by her daughter with the care work; Claudine says, ‘My daughter and son always replace me when I am not around.’ There is a public water source in the village, which helps her with the care activities. In addition, there is electricity provision in the village but Claudine’s house is not connected. There is no childcare provision in the village. Additionally, Claudine does not receive any support from extended family members.
Combining care work and paid work is tiring for Claudine and her children; and in fact, care activities take up most of her time:
Care work affects me since in most cases I do not get enough time to spend with my children. In fact, I am always busy with lots of care work to do at home. My daughter and son get tired too since they combine school and unpaid work at home. It is so tiresome and they do not get enough time to play with their friends due to some duties assigned to them...
Claudine wishes that she could spend a large proportion of her time with her children but it is not always possible because she needs to do paid work in order to support them; she says,
The effect of combined work on my children is that I do not give them much of my time as their mother and they do not get me when they are in need. I normally do not get enough time to help my children in doing their homework.
The combination of paid and care work also has a negative impact on her responsibilities in the community: ‘No I have not always enough time to do mobilisation in community works. I sometimes do community works or I do not do them.’
Claudine would like the government to provide seeds and fertilizers, which would help to increase crop production and increase food and income. In addition, she strongly feels that she should receive an increased daily wage because the current amount is not enough.