No strange thing: Giving single mothers a helping hand
It is no strange thing that there exist fathers who run away from their responsibilities, leaving the duty for their offspring to mothers- some of whom don’t know where to turn to.
It is against this backdrop that a young parent, Holy Rahman, decided to stand up and fight for the single mothers in his neighborhood in Eastlands, Nairobi.
The full-time father of two children aged three and four says the drive was mostly humanity to the core.
“It is not easy bringing up a child, and I believe it takes a village to raise one. The immediate people around us are wonderful single moms, who are being forced to deal with all the challenges singlehandedly.
When we chat with them, we realise just how demanding taking care and bringing up a child is. It is a full-time commitment, mostly with no pay, and no off days too. And in some cases, no appreciation at all,” says the 28-year-old.
Coming from similar background had helped Rahman understand, first hand, how hard it is to raise children without much or significant help from the other parent. Watching his mother trudge through responsibilities on her own planted a seed in him to help other women in the same situation.
“I’ve seen how taking care of another human is a real life responsibility worth sharing. Having a great mom is essential for a child growing up, and that’s something my kids are blessed with.
Honestly, if every mother is in a state of mind where they can be at their best, if everything is in its right balance and they get the right support, then they are the greatest part of humanity,” he adds.
Data highlight a significant burden of mental illness among single mothers, with financial hardship, lack of perceived social support, and any history of maltreatment, commonly shared features with single parenting.
His response is supporting mothers through an outreach programme known as Early Childhood and Day Care. “As they say, if you want to save the world, start with the immediate next person, and it just happens that the immediate society we’ve known and grown in has single mothers.
Education is equally as important, as its life changing, and the demands of it can be overburdening to one person. So we thought, what can we do to help? Early childcare is the basis of it all, maybe we can start small?” he posits.
Through this programme, him and his team handle everything to do with childcare to allow the single mothers have time for other duties including following up on child support cases as well as take care of themselves. What’s even more interesting is that he does this all for free.
To fund the project, he has a few creative ways, including running the #OneLastTime depression campaign, an initiative of All Around Africa (AAA), platform for breaking new music all around Africa, and Mzuka Kibao, a music distribution platform.
The campaign comes with a theme song, Paro, and proceeds from the music and merchandise go towards supporting the outreach initiative.
“I wrote Paro when I was going through a severe depression episode. I had just lost my job, family and house due to the challenges I was facing in life.
It was a dark moment, but somehow, I had to find the rainbow in all the torrents falling on me. I tried to take my life more than twice, but the thought of leaving my kids behind without a definite future scared the hell out of me,” Rahman says.
He imagine how much worse such a situation would be for single mothers who are both mother and fathers to their children and that’s why he was inspired to create a village to support them.
“The scariest thing about depression is the blanket of loneliness it covers you with. Somehow, it manages to keep you in solitude and make you feel as if everyone has abandoned you. At this time, a lot of people are tempted to give up, and to get done with the pain once and for all,” he says.
Currently, the programme has a team of nine, whose work involves identifying the single mothers who need the help, as they cannot accommodate all of them at the moment, developing strategies and ways to execute them.
“We are working with two foundations: 100 foundation, which supports teenage girls with essentials like sanitary pads and basic schooling needs and Touch A Soul (TAS), which supports children who experience isolation because of their backgrounds, specifically children from families affected by HIV,” he concludes.