“I hope that I don’t have to drop out of school because of the drought": Patiente’s story

At 14 years, most teenagers in the West are becoming young adults – growing confident and taking on more responsibilities. At the same time, most of them can still rely on their parents to provide them with what they need. They are able to go to school and enjoy time with their friends. This is not the case though for many teenagers around the world.

When talking to 14-year old Patiente lives in Southern Mozambique – a country currently experiencing its worst drought in 35 years. Patiente and her family, like 70 per cent of the population, depend on agriculture as a source for food and income. Without rain, crops have failed and families are going hungry across the country.

When Patiente’s father passed away two years ago, her mother Amelia could usually provide for the family by working on other people’s fields. But this year, the drought has destroyed all the crops and Patiente’s mother spends days away from her daughter and 3 younger children.

While her mother is away, Patiente takes over her role. Her day starts as early as 5am, when she prepares breakfast for her three younger siblings. She mashes the chestnuts her mother collects and boils them in water.

After breakfast, Patiente walks to school.

“I love going to school. I like seeing my friends and my favorite subjects are Portuguese and English. But it’s becoming more and more difficult to go to school, as I have to do so many other things and sometimes I feel very tired.”

Patiente cares for her younger siblings; feeding, bathing and hugging them when they cry. She washes up the plates and cups, collects firewood and cleans the house. Every other day, Antoniette, a CARE-volunteer, drops by the house to help the family.

“When I am away, I worry all the time for my children. Knowing that Antoniette keeps an eye on them, at least makes me feel a little better,” says Amelia.

On her way home from school, Patiente collects water for the family. As the 25 liter canister is too heavy for her to carry, her mother built a small cart which Patiente pulls over the sandy ground. Fortunately, a few weeks ago, CARE built a well only 15 walking minutes away from Patiente’s home.

“This has made it a lot easier for me, as I don’t have to walk hours and hours after school to fetch water anymore and have time again to do my homework.”

Patiente’s family is not alone with their difficulties. Almost everyone’s crops in their small village failed this year. In April, the government of Mozambique officially declared a state of national disaster. Almost two million people are without a source of adequate income and food. Most often it is mothers like Amelia who have to shoulder most of the burden, while girls like Patiente face uncertain futures.

“I want to do everything I can to make sure Patiente can continue her education. I don’t want this to be her future,”says Amelia and points to the little makeshift shelter the family calls home.

“I really hope I don’t have to drop out of school,” Patiente says. “I want to become a pilot. One day I will fly over this land and see that there is no drought and enough crops grow in the field for all people.”

Your support today will help women and girls like Amelia and Patiente as they to overcome the impacts of drought.