Liliana Lova Rahoaritsalamanirinarisoa, 25, a single mother from the village of Ambohimanga Rova, about 24km east of Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo, is confident about the future - despite her daily struggles.
She lives in a church with her mother and father - the village priest - her two-year-old daughter and her five younger siblings. They raise chickens and pigs to supplement the family's three salaries, which must stretch to feed the nine-member household.
Rahoaritsalamanirinarisoa has started training as a teacher and receives a half of a teacher’s monthly salary, about US$23. The daily walk to school is 10km round trip, and the school has 100 learners and two classrooms, each divided into four by a curtain.
Name: Liliana Lova Rahoaritsalamanirinarisoa
Location: Ambohimanga Rova
Does your spouse/partner live with you? No
What is your primary job? Primary school teacher
What is your monthly salary? 50,000 ariary [US$23]
What is your household’s total income - including your partner’s salary and any additional sources? 380,000 ariary [$174]. My father earns 180,000 ariary [$81] and my eldest brother earns 150,000 ariary [$68] as ticket collector on a bus.
How many people are living in your household - what is their relationship to you? Nine people. This includes my parents, my daughter, myself, and three brothers and two sisters.
How many are dependent on you/your partner’s income - what is their relationship to you? All of them depend on our three salaries
How much do you spend each month on food? 300,000 ariary [$138]
What is your main staple - how much does it cost each month? Rice - 140,000 ariary [$63]
How much do you spend on rent? Nothing, we live for free in the old church.
How much on monthly transport? 60,000 ariary [$27]
How much do you spend on educating your children each month? 100,000 ariary [$46]
After you have paid all your bills each month, how much is left? Nothing, there are always more expenses than income.
Have you or any member of the household been forced to skip meals or reduce portion sizes in the last three months? Yes, in October, when we had to pay school fees, we tried to eat less and spend less on oil and rice.
Have you been forced to borrow money (or food) in the last three months to cover basic household needs? Yes, we borrowed 70,000 ariary [$31] from the neighbours for rice.
“We raise chickens and pigs to earn some extra money, because my salary and that of my father and brother can’t feed all of us. My mother and I also embroider tablecloths. But in general, I think our lives are better than that of my parents. We now have a TV, a phone and a stereo, something they didn’t have while growing up. They went to school until ninth grade, while we can finish our educations. And I will make sure that my daughter’s life will be even better than mine.
“I was very happy to find the job as a teacher. The only thing that saddens me is the attitude of the parents. They promised to complement my salary with rice, as I earn very little money, but they haven’t done so at all. It feels as if they don’t appreciate the job I do teaching their children.
“I passed my baccalauréat [the French secondary school exam]. It was the best thing that has happened to me this year. This diploma has opened up many new possibilities for me, as not many people here have this level [of education]. Now that I have my baccalauréat, my salary will be raised and I can start my correspondence courses, because eventually, I plan to become a lawyer. I can also start to teach secondary school in the afternoons and give private lessons in French, so that I can earn money to buy books.
“The beginning of the school year is always the hardest for us. We have to borrow money to pay for the school fees for my three brothers, two sisters and my daughter. We borrowed money from the neighbours to get everything together, and in the last month, we tried to spend less on food. Normally we buy and eat 100kg of rice a month, but now, we are cutting down on rice and oil. We never have leftover money. It’s a struggle to pay the bills every month.”
June 2013 update
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions