Delphine: A Determined Mother Facing Distress

Portraits of African Women Struggling to Survive Extreme Poverty

To mark International Women’s Day this week, we are highlighting some life stories of African women. These articles were written by regional Volunteer Corps teams with women involved in ATD Fourth World.

The aim of these portraits is to share with ATD Fourth World members and others the poignant accounts and remarkable courage of African women in their struggle to survive extreme poverty.

In Africa, as elsewhere, gender inequality does not only emerge in adulthood. It takes root from early childhood, influenced by parents and the process of socialisation.

Through the life experiences of Mariam Sankara, Delphine and Francine, we are confronted not only with sometimes painful realities but also with the determination and resistance of these women. Each of these accounts attests to the urgent need to address gender inequality and discrimination. They call for collective action against injustice and for the promotion of equal rights for all women.

Each account represents a call to recognise the fundamental rights of women, whether in education, inheritance, political participation, or opposition to forced marriages.

We hope that these portraits will inspire people to reflect deeply on the condition of women in Africa and encourage them to take action for equality and dignity.

Portrait written by the ATD Fourth World team from the Central African Republic

Originally from the Central African Republic, Delphine resides in the Kokoro Boeing neighbourhood, a place with no basic infrastructure more than seven kilometers from the capital, Bangui. Delphine tells of a life marked by disappointments and her quest for a better future for herself and her family.

Delphine is an exceptional woman, notable for her inner strength and determination to raise her nine children, all with different fathers. She has been repeatedly abandoned by the men in whom she had placed her trust.

A Difficult Path Marked by Disappointment

Lacking financial means, Delphine turned to men to lighten the burden on her family. But each time she became pregnant, she faced the harsh reality of being abandoned. Each pregnancy turned into a new ordeal and quickly plunged Delphine into despair.


Despite everything, this mother refused to give up. Facing despair, she courageously took control of her family’s future.

Every morning, she got up early to collect firewood in the forest and sell it to provide for her nine children.

Her determination to ensure her family’s well-being became the driving force behind her actions.

In addition to economic hardship, Delphine has also been a victim of recurring floods in Kokoro, which have destroyed her house three times. Once again, she refused to give up.

Faced with this challenge, she started making bricks and used her own hands to rebuild part of her house. Finding a place to spend the night with her children is her primary goal.

Perseverance and survival

Despite the constant challenges, Delphine does not give up. As her relentless efforts to provide shelter and food for her family reveal, resistance is the story of her life. She continues to fight to ensure the survival of her children.

Delphine’s life highlights an extraordinary inner strength as she faced abandonment, poverty, and the forces of nature. It shows that even in the darkest moments, human willpower can triumph.

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