From Sea to Family: A Father's Journey in the Face of Climate Challenges

Thursday 7 March 2024

Imagine being away from home for 12 hours every day, not out of choice but driven by the necessity to provide for your family. Such is the life of Mohamed Makeme, a father of eleven, whose primary source of income is fishing. The sea, once a close companion for daily sustenance, has now become a vast expanse that separates him from his family, all due to the changing climate.

"Before, a quick trip would get us enough fish. Now, we go far, and sometimes, we come back with nothing after spending a long time out there," Mohamed says.

Mohamed, born into a family of fishermen, has inherited the trade as his livelihood. However, the evolving climate patterns have disrupted the once familiar routine of a short fishing expedition. Now, he finds himself traveling long distances in pursuit of the difficult-to-catch fish, spending extended hours at sea and often returning home long after his children have gone to sleep.

This climate-induced separation takes a toll on the family dynamics. With Mohamed frequently absent, his children, numbering eleven, are left to receive most of their upbringing from their mother. Juma, one of Mohamed's sons, recounts the times when weeks would pass without seeing his father, who would return to find them already in bed.

"There were times he would leave while we were asleep and return to find us still in bed," Juma shares.

In the face of these challenges, Mohamed remains resolute in providing the best possible upbringing for his children. Enter Save the Children's "Safe Family" program, a ray of hope amidst the climate-induced struggles while balancing his time in the sea and his family. “Safe Family” program launched in Zanzibar (Unguja and Pemba) in August 2022, the program has touched the lives of 569 adults (199 Male, 379 Female) and 375 children (185 Boys, 190 Girls) individuals in Pemba alone, including Mohamed.

Through "Safe Family," Mohamed and others 1112 (636 Female, 476 Male) parents and 909 (470 Girls, 439 Boys) receive invaluable education on effective parenting and conflict resolution, moving away from traditional physical punishments. The program empowers parents like Mohamed to navigate the complexities of family life in the midst of climate change.

"I still face challenges in finding fish, but I've learned how to balance my time between the sea and my family, ensuring I provide the care my children need," Mohamed reflects, acknowledging the positive impact of the program.

Grateful for the transformation in their approach to parenting, Aisha, Mohamed's wife, adds, "Besides my husband being more present, we no longer rely on corporal punishment as we did before the parenting education we received."

As Save the Children continues its mission, the "Safe Family" program aims to reach even more families, with a goal to educate 280 Children and 350 parents’ additional individuals by 2024. The objective is clear: promote better parenting practices, mitigate the impact of climate change, and foster stronger, more resilient families in the face of adversity.