Bakery group turns mums into breadwinners in Tanzania

At the tender age of nine, Aline* had her first brush with the tough reality of life in a refugee camp. Now, 18 years on, she finds herself again living in limbo — this time, in Tanzania’s squalid, overcrowded Nyarugusu camp.

The refugee experience is never easy. But, this time around, Aline bears the added burden of fending for her baby daughter Gloriose*. When Aline came to Tanzania in 2015, the grim conditions in the camp gave little comfort.

“When we arrived here, we arrived at night. We were given food, two blankets and a little tent (for seven people),” she recalls. “Some of us slept in the tent the others slept outside with only a blanket. It was cold but as refugees we are used to it.”

Like most mothers in the camps, Aline has limited means to provide food, shelter and health care for her family.

“I don’t feel good being a refugee. I don’t feel good at all. We don’t have a good place to live. If I had a good place to live, I would have some peace back in my life.”

Aline mother Tanzania
Aline sits with her youngest daughter, Gloriose. Photo: Phil Moore/Oxfam

Aline and Gloriose are just two of the millions of people, worldwide, who were forced to flee their homelands when armed conflict and persecution made life unliveable.

“A refugee is a person who does not have any options, they are not able to do the things they would like in life,” Aline describes her predicament. “A refugee’s life is reliant only on help.”

More than 65 million people — more than double the population of Australia — are currently displaced from their homelands. For most of these people, the refugee journey entails unimaginable danger, loss and psychological harm.

The decision to leave everything behind, and head into the unknown, is not a decision that one takes lightly. It’s a chilling prospect: abandoning everything you know – the familiar faces and places – in search of a safer life.

For people like Aline, there are no guarantees when fleeing violence and conflict; only the humble hope that life will get better.

Oxfam Tanzania
Families wait at an Oxfam distribution centre in Nyarugusu refugee camp. Photo: Amy Christian/Oxfam

In Tanzania, Oxfam is working hard to deliver on that hope. Oxfam has already provided water and sanitation facilities to around 135,000 people in the Tanzanian camps, and emergency food support. Now, Oxfam is breaking the poverty cycle with long-term, sustainable solutions.

Subsistence handouts can only go so far in a place like Nyarugusu. So Oxfam is instead focused on practical ways to give this growing refugee community a hand up, and help them become more self-sufficient.

The creation of work opportunity is a critical part of the plan. Oxfam is now building training pathways, so refugees can learn skills, make a living and provide for their families.

Aline seized the opportunity to learn baking skills in an Oxfam-supported bakery group.

Aline Baker Tanzania
Aline rolls out chapatis in the bakery. Photo: Phil Moore/Oxfam

“We were taught how to make everything,” she says. “I knew very little about baking before.”

“After a while, we started to make money and we made some profit. We were given 10,000 shillings profit each. We were very happy with that.”

Aline has also formed important friendships at the bakery group. “We give each other hope. I have other friends in the camp, but the ladies at the bakery are my closest friends.”

Aline friends Tanzania
Photo: Phil Moore/Oxfam

By empowering women like Aline with skills and work opportunity, this essential program feeds families and restores dignity.

“I spent my money at the market,” she explains. “I bought a few things for the kids and some food. On that day, we were able to eat different food — and the children were very happy about that.”

She adds, “I am asking [Oxfam] to bring more capital to help more people with these projects in the camp as so many people will benefit from them. My husband does not have any work here. I am the one working.”

Build hope in Tanzania

You can help people like Aline in Tanzania find the means to improve their lives. Please donate today to help families living in refugee camps in Tanzania build hope for the future.

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