Grace Uwizeyimana (aged 35) is a single mother who lives in Muko sector-Musanze district with her four daughters aged 16, 12, seven and four and a son aged 11. All the children go to a nearby primary school – apart from the four-year-old – who she takes care of during the day. Grace has not attended any formal education. Her main occupation is farming. She works alone on her small piece of land where she grows beans, maize and sometimes Irish potatoes: her work on the farm varies depending on the season and the crop. Grace also does farming for her neighbours but the money earned from this work is far below the amount needed to cover living costs and adequately meet her family’s needs. In addition, she does a lot of care work like cleaning the compound, washing clothes, cooking, fetching water, taking care of her children and sometimes she helps her parents who live nearby.
Grace’s eldest daughter and son support her with care work. Her daughter helps her to fetch water, collect firewood, clean the compound and the house, take care of her siblings as well as prepare the food. Her son helps with cleaning tasks and some other activities. She says, ‘my daughter and son always replace me when I am not around and they perform all the home care work. By the time I am back they have already completed all the home activities.’ She says her children do not see any problem doing care activities and said that, ‘my household members have no problem in sharing unpaid care work since they feel happy about it. They know that when I work I will be able to support the family in one way or another.’ However, she also worries that there is too much care burden on her children:
My daughter and son get tired too since they combine school and unpaid work at home. It is so tiresome and for instance my daughter does a lot of care activities to the extent that she does not get enough time to play with friends due to some duties assigned to her.
Doing care work and paid work is very tiresome for Grace and she is aware that this work reduces the time she would spend with her children:
Combining both paid and unpaid care work has made me feel so overwhelmed since it is a lot for me. It causes me to have less time for my children since I am obligated to do both to support my family.
Grace is a beneficiary of ActionAid’s women’s economic empowerment (WEE) programme – she would like them to help her get a better price for the food she grows and sells so that she can increase her income from farming activities. She also urges the government to provide fertilisers and access to piped water to increase and improve her crops. She says:
The government also should provide us with fertilisers which we can use in our farms so as to increase outputs… in our community, we lack clean water so we would like to request the government to provide piped water since we do not have clean water in our area.
Grace also feels that if she was given a loan she would be able to start a micro-business in her village.