This is the third in a series of four stories about fathers of children sponsored through Unbound. We’ll be posting these leading up to the celebration of Father’s Day on June 19. Click here to watch the companion video.
Many people think of the lives of the poor as simple, but the reality is that poverty brings with it an incredible level of complexity.
People who struggle with poverty have the same concerns as those with material resources. What they lack is choice. They live in a constant state of negotiation between what they need and what they can afford, and they are accustomed to making sacrifices that most of us never imagine.
The lives of the poor are becoming more complicated all the time, and nothing illustrates that more than the daily struggle of those who must constantly adapt to the shifting world economy. Peter, the father of two children sponsored through Unbound, is among the many parents working hard to navigate their way through these changing realities.
Peter is from Kenya, where he lives with his nine children. His wife, Fanise, lives and works in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Moving abroad was the best option for their family to earn a sustainable income. It was a difficult choice, but one that many families in the developing world have had to make.
It is estimated that 81 percent of workers in UAE are expatriates from other countries. That includes more than 40,000 Kenyans. They work primarily in construction, travel and tourism and as domestic workers — and many of them have had to leave their families behind.
“Though in our African culture a woman is not supposed to leave her home for her husband to run,” Peter said, “my wife and I had an understanding. We agreed that, because of our responsibilities toward the family, we both had to work.”
Peter has been a tailor for 45 of his 60 years. He labors daily at his sewing machine but what he earns is not adequate to support his nine children. When he isn’t working, he takes care of his home and family. Peter’s life is stretched thin both in time and money.
“I know my responsibilities as a father,” he said. “These children are mine. I have to care for them. I make sure they have food to eat. It is my responsibility as a father. They are my family.”
Peter’s and Fanise’s burden was substantially lifted when two of their children, twins Florence and Charles, 8, became sponsored through Unbound. The sponsorship provides school fees and supplements the family’s household support — an incredible boost for a family with so many mouths to feed. And as part of his commitment to the Unbound community, Peter also benefits from his participation in a local parent’s support group comprised mostly of mothers.
“My group is called New Hope. [I am one of] three men in our group. The rest are women. I feel part of the group. We cooperate well with the women. At the end of the meeting we go our separate ways. We have no problems with each other. We are free.”
Like many dads in the developing world facing the complexity of poverty, Peter has had to adapt in ways he never anticipated when he was younger. He credits his relationship with his own father for giving him the strength to do it.
“When relaxing and talking to my father, he [said to us], ‘My children, I have lived with your mother peacefully. We have taken good care of you. Now you are grown up.
“‘When you get your own family, take care of them. Do not be drunkards or irresponsible fathers.’
“That is what my father told me. I hold those words close to my heart.”
Help dads like Peter support their families. Sponsor today.