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Veronica Komba (Tanzania)
Image by The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood
Veronica Komba is a 20-year old single mother. She had been abandoned by her mother, who in turn had been abandoned by her father. She became pregnant at the age of 15 whilst in seventh grade. By this time, she was also a commercial sex worker to pay for food and school costs. Her boyfriend deserted her when she told him of her pregnancy, and Veronica failed to finish school.
As a young girl, Veronica used to sell local brews known as Ulanzi and Myakaya. She decided to join a women entrepreneurs group known as VICOBA for two purposes: to receive emotional support from older women in the aftermath of her mother and boyfriend deserting her, as well as to receive a loan for her small business of selling local brews.
Veronica felt labor pains on August 15, 2005, while working at her brew kiosk. She felt dizzy and collapsed. A customer called for the village midwives, who examined her and found that her blood pressure was very high. Furthermore, her entire body had started swelling. They referred her to the hospital, 60 kilometers away.
Unfortunately, there was no ambulance to take Veronica to the hospital. Her grandmother called for Mama Hinju, the leader of the women’s group. Members of the group – including Veronica – contributed money to a common fund for health and maternal emergencies. Mama Hinju withdrew some money from this fund and hired a car to take Veronica to hospital.
After arriving at the hospital, Veronica started experiencing convulsions and was diagnosed with eclampsia. The doctors said she would not be able to have a normal delivery because of her physical condition and her young age. Veronica gave birth to her daughter by Cesarean Section. All her medical bills were also paid by the women's group.
Veronica is grateful to be a member of VICOBA, since the group enabled her to obtain a loan for her small business venture and then supported her when she had a serious health problem. Says Veronica: "I could be dead by now if not for the help from VICOBA".
From Orphans Relief Services of Tanzania
UNDP Strong Places (1)
Image by mgrenner57
UNDP's Niel Kusumsiri with two loan recipients (who used their loan to set up a small business that rents out phones and office equipment).