Our friend Eli had just invested everything he had in a fruit farm – 3 years to come to maturity. No worries, he thought – he has stable work as a bajaji (like a tuktuk) driver. That will provide for his family and when the farm matures they’ll be on the up.
Then covid-19 happened and people started staying home. Suddenly this single dad of 3’s income dries up. They eke out a meal a day. Then his bajaji breaks down and the repairs are more than he can afford, so he enters into an exploitative loan with the bank for a new one – repayments are AU80 per week. The first wave of covid passes and things get better for a while and he makes his repayments each week. His kids start eating more than once a day. He even gets some data on his phone so he can watch something when customers ask them to wait for him.
But then people start staying home again. His kid breaks his leg. Of course he has no insurance – the operation alone is a week’s worth of repayment, never mind the other doctor’s visits. He gets behind on his payments but the bank lets him take his payments down to AU60 per week. He think it will be OK but then he sits for three hours at the bajaji stop but gets no work. He is relieved when Arthur calls him to take him to the TAFES centre. Arthur overpays him but he’s his only customer for the day. The bank calls…
We often think of poverty as a lack but it is more accurately described as a sticky web – you lift one foot to walk forward and get caught by something else. Eli has no lack of initiative, direction, diligence or hard work. He is respected by others and a loving father to his children. Every morning he wakes at 4am to go to prayers. If work is available he is often out until 11pm. His constant refrain is ‘Mungu ni mwema, Mungu anaweza.’ (God is good, God is able.) His faith is bigger than mine – it has to be.
Categories: Written by Tamie
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.