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Grandmothers In Eswatini Are Turning To Illegal Grow Ops To Provide For Their Families

Due to the HIV/Aids epidemic, sole caregivers are trying to make ends meet through illegal cannabis farms.

Photo by Mike Hutchings / Reuters

Nhlangano, Eswatini (previously Swaziland), is witnessing some harsh realities where grandmothers are risking it all to provide for their families with illegal cannabis farms.

You might have heard of the kingdom’s famous “Swazi Gold” strain, but what you didn’t know is that the ones harvesting and caring for these precious plants are nurturing grandmothers and sole carers for many orphaned children due to HIV/Aids epidemic.

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Photo by Graeme Williams / Alamy

Enter Noncedo Manguya, caregiver for five grandchildren, along with two other children from her extended family. “I had three children, but they all passed away, leaving me with five grandchildren to care for. All my children were HIV positive, and they died because of that. I also take care of two other children, relatives to my late husband, whose parents are also dead,” she told the Guardian.

Photo by Handout

Caring for seven children left Manguya struggling to find a job to make ends meet, which led her to produce an illegal grow op, a.k.a, dagga, where she sells her flower to South African dealers. Growers like Manguya sell a gram of cannabis for 7-10 rand (about 0.69 cents USD), which is later resold for more than ten times the price.

“Poverty led me into this business. There are no jobs. These children need to go to school, but there is no help at all from the government. I have to commit crime, farming weed, to ensure I take care of them,” she explained.

Photo courtesy of Swazi Gold

Managua isn’t the only woman in Eswatini struggling to make ends meet and turning to cannabis farms to help with financial needs. In fact, according to the International Labour Organization, 23.7% of women in the country are unemployed, and about 12% turn to sex work or other illegal businesses to provide for themselves and family.

October 20, 2021
Written by BuzzMusic
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October 20, 2021
Written by BuzzMusic
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