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Uganda mom of multiple quadruplets struggles to provide for 38 children

Mariam Nabatanzi takes a family portrait with some of her children at their home in Kasawo village, March 8. Mariam Nabatanzi 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.

Three years ago, however, the 39-year-old Ugandan was abandoned by her husband, leaving her to support their surviving 38 children alone.
 REUTERS/James Akena

Mariam Nabatanzi takes a family portrait with some of her children at their home in Kasawo village, March 8. Mariam Nabatanzi 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...more

Mariam Nabatanzi takes a family portrait with some of her children at their home in Kasawo village, March 8. Mariam Nabatanzi 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. Three years ago, however, the 39-year-old Ugandan was abandoned by her husband, leaving her to support their surviving 38 children alone. REUTERS/James Akena
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Mariam Nabatanzi's children serve a meal at their family home in Kasawo village, Mukono district, east of Kampala, Uganda March 7, 2019.  After her first sets of twins were born, Nabatanzi went to a doctor who told her she had unusually large ovaries. He advised her that birth control like pills might cause health problems.

So the children kept coming. 
  REUTERS/James Akena

Mariam Nabatanzi's children serve a meal at their family home in Kasawo village, Mukono district, east of Kampala, Uganda March 7, 2019. After her first sets of twins were born, Nabatanzi went to a doctor who told her she had unusually large...more

Mariam Nabatanzi's children serve a meal at their family home in Kasawo village, Mukono district, east of Kampala, Uganda March 7, 2019. After her first sets of twins were born, Nabatanzi went to a doctor who told her she had unusually large ovaries. He advised her that birth control like pills might cause health problems. So the children kept coming. REUTERS/James Akena
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Mariam Nabatanzi, speaks during a Reuters interview at her home in Kasawo village, March 8. 
Family sizes are at their largest in Africa. In Uganda, the fertility rate averages out at 5.6 children per woman, one of the continent's highest, and more than double the global average of 2.4 children, according to the World Bank. REUTERS/James Akena

Mariam Nabatanzi, speaks during a Reuters interview at her home in Kasawo village, March 8. Family sizes are at their largest in Africa. In Uganda, the fertility rate averages out at 5.6 children per woman, one of the continent's highest, and more...more

Mariam Nabatanzi, speaks during a Reuters interview at her home in Kasawo village, March 8. Family sizes are at their largest in Africa. In Uganda, the fertility rate averages out at 5.6 children per woman, one of the continent's highest, and more than double the global average of 2.4 children, according to the World Bank. REUTERS/James Akena
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Mariam Nabatanzi speaks about her family portraits during a Reuters interview at her home in Kasawo village, March 8. Her last pregnancy, two and a half years ago, had complications. It was her sixth set of twins and one of them died in childbirth, her sixth child to die.

Then her husband - often absent for long stretches - abandoned her. His name is now a family curse. Nabatanzi refers to him using an expletive.

"I have grown up in tears, my man has passed me through a lot of suffering," she said during an interview at her home, hands clasped as her eyes welled up. "All my time has been spent looking after my children and working to earn some money." REUTERS/James Akena

Mariam Nabatanzi speaks about her family portraits during a Reuters interview at her home in Kasawo village, March 8. Her last pregnancy, two and a half years ago, had complications. It was her sixth set of twins and one of them died in childbirth,...more

Mariam Nabatanzi speaks about her family portraits during a Reuters interview at her home in Kasawo village, March 8. Her last pregnancy, two and a half years ago, had complications. It was her sixth set of twins and one of them died in childbirth, her sixth child to die. Then her husband - often absent for long stretches - abandoned her. His name is now a family curse. Nabatanzi refers to him using an expletive. "I have grown up in tears, my man has passed me through a lot of suffering," she said during an interview at her home, hands clasped as her eyes welled up. "All my time has been spent looking after my children and working to earn some money." REUTERS/James Akena
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Mariam Nabatanzi's children rest on the verandah at their home in Kasawo village, March 8. Desperate for cash, Nabatanzi turns a hand to everything: hairdressing, event decorating, collecting and selling scrap metal, brewing local gin and selling herbal medicine. The money is swallowed up by food, medical care, clothing and school fees. REUTERS/James Akena

Mariam Nabatanzi's children rest on the verandah at their home in Kasawo village, March 8. Desperate for cash, Nabatanzi turns a hand to everything: hairdressing, event decorating, collecting and selling scrap metal, brewing local gin and selling...more

Mariam Nabatanzi's children rest on the verandah at their home in Kasawo village, March 8. Desperate for cash, Nabatanzi turns a hand to everything: hairdressing, event decorating, collecting and selling scrap metal, brewing local gin and selling herbal medicine. The money is swallowed up by food, medical care, clothing and school fees. REUTERS/James Akena
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Mariam Nabatanzi's son carries a meal at their family home in Kasawo village, March 7. Twelve of the children sleep on metal bunk beds with thin mattresses in one small room with grime-caked walls. In the other rooms, lucky children pile onto shared mattresses while the others sleep on the dirt floor.

Older children help look after the young ones and everyone helps with chores like cooking. A single day can require 25 kilograms of maize flour, Nabatanzi says. Fish or meat are rare treats.

A roster on a small wooden board nailed to a wall spells out washing or cooking duties. REUTERS/James Akena

Mariam Nabatanzi's son carries a meal at their family home in Kasawo village, March 7. Twelve of the children sleep on metal bunk beds with thin mattresses in one small room with grime-caked walls. In the other rooms, lucky children pile onto shared...more

Mariam Nabatanzi's son carries a meal at their family home in Kasawo village, March 7. Twelve of the children sleep on metal bunk beds with thin mattresses in one small room with grime-caked walls. In the other rooms, lucky children pile onto shared mattresses while the others sleep on the dirt floor. Older children help look after the young ones and everyone helps with chores like cooking. A single day can require 25 kilograms of maize flour, Nabatanzi says. Fish or meat are rare treats. A roster on a small wooden board nailed to a wall spells out washing or cooking duties. REUTERS/James Akena
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Mariam Nabatanzi's children eat a meal at their family home in Kasawo village, March 7. REUTERS/James Akena

Mariam Nabatanzi's children eat a meal at their family home in Kasawo village, March 7. REUTERS/James Akena

Mariam Nabatanzi's children eat a meal at their family home in Kasawo village, March 7. REUTERS/James Akena
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Mariam Nabatanzi's son Isaack Mubiru, 7, sits on a bed at their family home in Kasawo village, March 8. REUTERS/James Akena

Mariam Nabatanzi's son Isaack Mubiru, 7, sits on a bed at their family home in Kasawo village, March 8. REUTERS/James Akena

Mariam Nabatanzi's son Isaack Mubiru, 7, sits on a bed at their family home in Kasawo village, March 8. REUTERS/James Akena
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Mariam Nabatanzi's son prepares a meal at their family home in Kasawo village, March 7. REUTERS/James Akena

Mariam Nabatanzi's son prepares a meal at their family home in Kasawo village, March 7. REUTERS/James Akena

Mariam Nabatanzi's son prepares a meal at their family home in Kasawo village, March 7. REUTERS/James Akena
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A child walks past a family duty timetable glued on a kitchen wall at Mariam Nabatanzi's home in Kasawo village, March 8. REUTERS/James Akena

A child walks past a family duty timetable glued on a kitchen wall at Mariam Nabatanzi's home in Kasawo village, March 8. REUTERS/James Akena

A child walks past a family duty timetable glued on a kitchen wall at Mariam Nabatanzi's home in Kasawo village, March 8. REUTERS/James Akena
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Mariam Nabatanzi cleans the courtyard at her home in Kasawo village, March 8. REUTERS/James Akena

Mariam Nabatanzi cleans the courtyard at her home in Kasawo village, March 8. REUTERS/James Akena

Mariam Nabatanzi cleans the courtyard at her home in Kasawo village, March 8. REUTERS/James Akena
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