Delfinia Bernado has a lot to smile about. She’s a proud mum of two — and thanks to a few clever goats — is earning enough money to provide for her family.
Delfinia isn’t sure of her age, but she remembers what life was like when she was a child in Nhongue village, Mozambique.
“When I was a child, things here were very different. The way we used to work with our parents was very different. We only ate once a day as it took all day to get water.”
Now, Delfinia is herself a mother of two small children.
“Everyday my children make me smile,” Delfinia tells us.“We wake up and they help me to do all the chores, sweeping and cooking. We’re always together.”
Though she’s a happily single parent, life has been difficult for Delfinia and her family. They’re dependent on Delfinia’s sole income, and like many people in Nhongue village, Delfinia’s options are extremely limited.
“My main source of income is charcoal burning,” Delfinia said.
“I have to carry it to the road to sell (far away). First I have to cut trees, fill a sand pit, burn the wood, chop it up… it’s a long process and very tough work. I do everything myself.”
Charcoal burning isn’t an unusual source of income here — but it’s physically demanding, often dangerous work — with very little return.
To help, Oxfam’s project work in the region focuses on building sustainable and diversified livelihoods; like the distribution of goats and chickens. The animals provide a safe, easy source of income, and are bred and sold to provide the essentials: food, shelter and education.
Delfinia’s life has already changed drastically.
“I’ve sold two goats and used the money to buy corrugated iron sheets to build my house,” Delfinia said.
“It was a very happy moment when I bought the iron sheets …I want a better house and it’s much better to have an iron house as in the round house (traditional) the grass roof falls on you when you’re asleep. The problem with grass is that it leaks when it rains. I hope to live in the iron house a very long time, maybe even until I die.”
With the money she’s now earning, Delfinia can provide her family with the bare essentials.
“I face many problems here, like I don’t have a water container to store water in. I don’t have a blanket or a bed either. The first thing I’ll buy after I’ve built my house is a bed, preferably a big one for me and the children, but it depends how much money I have,” Delfinia said.
“My only wish is to have a house and a bed and a blanket, I don’t have any other wishes.”