Large families are a normal phenomenon in Africa. But 39 year old Mariam Nabatanzi tops it off with her 38 children and she is doing it single handedly after her husband abandoned them three years ago.
Mariam gave birth to twins a year after she was married off at the age of 12. Five more sets of twins followed – along with four sets of triplets and five sets of quadruplets.
After her first sets of twins were born, Nabatanzi went to a doctor who told her she had unusually large ovaries and advsied her against taking birth control pills.
Not one to sit and wallow in misery, Mariam aggressively looks for any type of work to fend for her large family. She does not discriminate any opportunity and has so far tried her hand in hairdressing, event decorating, collecting and selling scrap metal, brewing local gin and selling herbal medicine.
“I have grown up in tears, my man has passed me through a lot of suffering. All my time has been spent looking after my children and working to earn some money,” she says during an interview with Reuters.
Mariam lives with her children in four cramped houses made of cement blocks and topped with corrugated iron sheets. 12 of the children sleep on metal bunk beds with thin mattresses while others share mattresses and the unlucky ones sleep on the floor.
Providing for her children is proving to be a challenge as all her money goes to buying food, medical care, clothes and school fees.
“A single day can require 25 kilograms of maize flour to feed the entire family. Fish or meat are rare treats,” she reveals.