New lifestyle for mum who wants to help

AN INSPIRING mother has swapped her comfortable lifestyle in Comet country to live in Mozambique and help those living in poverty. Jane Rintoul, of Station Road in Letchworth GC, is a senior governance advisor for the Department for International Developm

AN INSPIRING mother has swapped her comfortable lifestyle in Comet country to live in Mozambique and help those living in poverty.

Jane Rintoul, of Station Road in Letchworth GC, is a senior governance advisor for the Department for International Development (DFID) - the part of the UK Government that manages Britain's aid to poor countries and works to combat extreme poverty.

Jane, 47, said: "In 1993 I went to stay with a friend who was living and working in Nairobi. That trip opened my eyes to the poverty and hardship of many people living in Africa, but I also fell in love with the vibrancy of Africa and its beauty.

"For the next five years I was busy developing a strategy to make a career change into development work.

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"I tested my capacity to live in a developing country through joining a Raleigh International expedition in Namibia for four months and then I found an administrative and management position with Save the Children, based in London, to build up my knowledge of development issues.

"Eventually, I found an opening with DFID, which brought together both elements, and my first posting was to Hanoi in Vietnam, from 2001 to 2004."

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Jane moved to Mozambique in 2005, following the birth of her son at Lister Hospital in Stevenage and a period of maternity leave in Letchworth GC. Her son was just eight months old when they arrived there.

Jane's job mainly involves allocating UK aid in Mozambique and ensuring this aid is used effectively and goes where it is intended.

Mozambique faces some big challenges. More than 50 per cent of its people live below the poverty line, the average life expectancy is 46, one child in every six dies before their fifth birthday, and more than 16 per cent of 15 to 49-year-olds are HIV+ or have AIDS - the 10th highest prevalence in the world. Nearly 60 per cent of Mozambique's rural population doesn't have access to safe and clean drinking water.

DFID's annual £60m funding to Mozambique goes towards programmes such as child immunisation, halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS, boosting the number of children enrolling at primary schools, improving rural water supplies and sanitation, and extending the road network.

Most of Jane's work is with central government agencies in Maputo, Mozambique's capital, and she also spends a lot of time working with other donor organisations such as the United Nations and the World Bank.

She said: "I really enjoy having a job that makes me feel strongly about what I do. Particularly since I had my son, I can begin to understand how terrible it must be not to be able to feed your child adequately, or not to have access to clean water for your family, or not to be able to keep your child healthy or safe from conflict.

"I feel I am on a bit of a mission to help Mozambique to reduce poverty and powerlessness and to provide a decent quality of life for its people."

She continued: "The most memorable experiences are those where you see people manage to triumph over adversity despite extreme poverty and personal tragedy.

"Mozambique is the 172nd least developed country in the world, out of 177 countries, and it is one of the few countries where the HIV prevalence rate has not yet started to fall. I have therefore seen many people who are in the last weeks or months of their life, who are struggling to be adequately fed and cared for. But at the same time I have met women who have access to anti-retroviral treatments who are, as a result, able to care for their sick relatives and for their children. They are well enough to grow a few crops and to raise these children despite the many difficulties they face on a daily basis.

"I have also seen tremendous optimism in Mozambique.

"International aid and good government policies have helped rebuild Mozambique after the war of independence and then a prolonged and bloody civil war.

"Mozambique has a very long way to go but it is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.

"Many people are confronted by continuing hardships but they know things are better than they were and they are ambitious for the future.

"They are investing their limited resources and their labour in anything from potato farms to small businesses to livestock. They are also seeing the value of education and sending their children to school."

Jane, who is currently living in Maputo, concluded: "It's quite hard being so far away from family and friends, but the job is always varied, stimulating and rewarding.

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