SHE looks humble, charm and confident. She speaks with a purpose, talks less and listens more. Her smiling face is full of hope and aspirations to accomplish a successful mission. We are talking about a 24 -year-old Eva Ngalaba, a resident of Kyela District in Mbeya region.
Ms Ngalaba has witnessed a lot in her young age. She has experienced humiliation, stigmatisation and above all living in abject poverty. Ms Ngalaba was enrolled for secondary education at Mwigo secondary school in Mbeya region.
However, she experienced difficulties during the four year period of her studies. She was forced to involve herself in love affairs with people who promised to support her financially.
When the Form Four final examination results were released, Ms Ngalaba was among students who recorded poor performance. Ms Ngalaba, a mother of twins *Jennifer and Jenevive narrated to ‘the Daily News’ that her life changed to worse after conceiving. The man who had promised to love to the end of the road turned back on her coldly after his family disagreed with his plan to marry her.
“I started dating a man when I was still at school. The man was a manager at one of petrol stations here in this town. He promised that he was going to marry me after school but things changed after I conceived,” explained Ms Ngalaba as tears ran down her eyes.
The humiliation Life hasn’t been easy for Ms Ngalaba since she conceived. According to Ms Ngalaba, the man who impregnated her said the best way for them to get married was to get a child first.
She said the man claimed he was the last born in his family therefore all eyes were on him and that his parents were closely following his movements. “He lied to me! He said since his family wanted to choose a wife for him, the easiest way to convince them was to make sure I conceived first,” she said.
She added that after telling him of her situation, the man said his family did not like to hear anything about her and that there was no possibility for him to marry her. “I was shocked to hear such bad news, from there I realized that the man did not tell me the truth from the beginning,” she explained.
Ms Ngalaba explained that few weeks after conceiving, the man was transferred from Kyela district to another petrol station and that their communication just ended like that!
She said the nine months of her twins pregnancy was very difficult and testing moments. “ I was crying all the time, there was no one to wipe my tears, the man I trusted had abandoned me.
I was like a calf left alone in a jungle,” she said. She added: “I lost weight because of stress, I was always thinking on what would happen after giving birth, I prayed to God to send someone to come to my rescue, I was in deep trouble,”.
According to Ms Ngalaba, she was shocked after the Ultra Sounds test results indicated that she was carrying twins.She thought about where to get clothes, food and other requirements for her two children.
“I was totally confused, I did not know what to do and where to go. By that time, I was staying in a poor house with my sister, I just waited for God’s miracles to happen,” she narrated.
A light at the end of the tunnel Ms Ngalaba became one of hundreds vulnerable adolescent girls and young women who got support from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) through a loan, which was handed to Kyela district council, purposely to support the identified groups.
Before getting the loans, Ms Ngalaba and other girls in the area received training from officials under SAUTI project and Kiota Women’s Health and Development (KIWOHEDE). The girls and young women were brought together under the DREAMS initiatives.
They were mobilized to form a Worth groups and later trained on economic issues, gender and entrepreneurship skills and other risk behaviors so that they understand their roles.
She said the girls were trained on entrepreneurship skills, proper ways of establishing and doing business, developing capital and other risk behaviours so that they can understand their roles and manage to at least accomplish goals through the business by identifying potential areas for income generating activities. According to Ms Ngalaba, the girls were advised to form groups so that it could be easier for them to acquire the ILO loan through the district council.
“My group ‘Umoja’ was among 12 worth groups that received ILO loans through the district council,” said the mother of two. She said in March, 2017, the group, which comprised seven members received 3m/- as a loan from ILO. Ms Ngalaba was among beneficiaries and she managed to walk away with 427,000/-.
She said each member decided to start business of her choice. Construction of business ‘grocery’ Ms Ngalaba used 427,000/- to set up her business. She built a grocery famously known as ‘genge’ where she sells onions, tomatoes, rice, dried fish and other things of such nature. She said the profit obtained from her small business help her pay school fees for her 3-year old twins who are now attending nursery school.
Ms Ngalaba also invests her cash in buying rice, keeping it in her store, waiting to sell it when the price goes up. “I have already bought four sacks of rice each at 100,000/-, I will sell some when the price goes up,” she noted.
Moreover, the mother of two has also hired a farm at 70,000/- for practicing rice farming. According to her, the loan has helped her to improve her life by establishing her own businesses.
“I am doing everything in my capacity to ensure my children lead good life. To be honest life has changed, I am very thankful to ILO, SAUTI, KIWOHEDE, Jhpiego and whoever has hand on this,” she explained.
According to Ms Ngalaba, her capital has so far grown from 427,000/- to more than 900,000 in a period of seven months. Second chance in life The family now lives in a good house.
Ms Ngalaba says it is a second chance in her life. She said after going through difficulties during her pregnancy and after giving birth to twins life has finally changed.
She said before getting training and support, she was living a poor life and her children were risking getting diseases due to poor environment they were living in. “The house we lived in before was not good at all.
It was like a cave. I know, it is God who sent ILO and all others to save us, as I speak right now, my two children and I live in a good house,” she said. Moreover, Ms Ngalaba said from the training on behaviour change.
She said: “As we talk right now, I know my health status and I understand how to protect myself from dangerous diseases including HIV/AIDS, this has been possible because of ILO and other organisations,” From her businesses, Ms Ngalaba manages to take care of herself and two children.
She stressed: “At the moment there is no man who can take me to his advantage because I know who I am,” She added: “I am a single mother of twins, I love them and I am very focused. I am doing everything in power to support them,” The sky is the limit Ms Ngalaba says so far her plans are on the right track.
According to her, with the strategies she sets, she is confident by 99 percent that her dreams will come true. “I want to own fruit plantations and paddy farms in various parts of the country. I am now hiring farms, but my plan is to own land and do serious business with it,” she said.
Support from the district council The District Council Executive Director (DED) Mr Musa Mgata said his office is aware of the youth challenges in the area and that it is doing everything in its powers to support them.
He said the district council is thinking of coming up with by-laws in trade and investment to enforce the ban and create better environment for investment in the area.
“This will encourage establishment of agro-processing industries and the youth in general will benefit from the business,” said Mr Mgata.
Kyela District, famous for its quality rice, is second after Kigoma Region in production of palm oil. Presently 80 per cent of the local produce is concentrated in Kigoma Region and other areas are in Kyela District and some parts of Tanga region.
Mr Mgata said his office encourages establishment of both small and middle sized industries seen as the most reliable and best way to build up the district and country’s economy.
According to the DED, his office has been conducting training on products packaging to youth in the district. He said youth are being trained and enabled to establish factories that produce packaging materials.
“I can assure you that people can establish industries in this area, it is a matter of making right decisions,” he said. He added that establishment of refinery industries is one of areas that do not need much capital.
According to the DED, he was assured after conducting a survey that with at least 12m/- one can establish a small refinery industry. According to the available statistics, Kyela district is growing rapidly.
The red palm oil processing, cocoa processing and fruit processing such as canning, drying, wine-making, power generation are among potential industries in the area. Mr Mgata said his office so far has been supporting youth to improve their economies by engaging in various economic activities.
He said youth have been invited to participate in the ‘Nanenane exhibitions, cultural and tourism week as well as other business related events in the area.
The DED said the ILO loans and efforts by NGOs to change lives of the people in the area are highly valued and appreciated by the government. Kyela district council received 65.6m/- from ILO for supporting youth in the district.
So far 29.5m/- has been already provided to youth as loans. The DED said: “this is nice program, it has also promoted accountability among youth,” he said.
He added that his office through ‘youth fund’ basket is also continuing to support youth. ILO speaks out The ILO National Project Coordinator (HIV/AIDS), Ms Getrude Sima said there is need for supporting youth to establish large-scale businesses.
She said ILO promotes employment and support various development program including providing fund for youth through the government. “We always team up with NGOs in implementing various projects.
Our aim is to see positive changes, we want to see people creating jobs and moving forward,” she noted. “We want to see sustainable businesses, youth can excel in various areas such as agriculture, small and medium industries and other big businesses,” she said.
Giving the scope of the SAUTI project in Kyela, Ms Lilian Kisanga, a Social and economic empowerment specialist, under SAUTI project said the program has proved to be positive for HIV intervention because under this program, most of the girls are busy with income generating activities which are freeing them from risky behavior.
As part of the SAUTI Project portfolio, the economic strengthening intervention and revolving funds support for vulnerable adolescent girls and young women (vAGYW) is implemented by Jhpiego in partnership with Pact, EngenderHealth and Kyela District Council with Support from ILO and USAID through the U.S. Government’s PEPFAR under the DREAMS initiatives.
● Jennifer and Jenevive are not real names of Ms Ngalaba’s children.