Eleven-year-old Sajeda wears several hats in her home.
She’s big sister to three, an amazing cook, and Mom No. 2.
Fatima Babiker, a single mother, works long hours, and when she is away, Sajeda, her eldest daughter, takes over. She cooks for her siblings (Mosbah, 9, and 7-year-old twins Layal and Mohamemd), serves as the de facto disciplinarian, keeps the apartment tidy and even helps out with homework.
The family is part of the Statesman’s Season for Caring program, which helps hundreds of families each year through local nonprofit agencies. The Babiker family was nominated by Caritas of Austin.
Babiker, who grew up in Sudan, but fled to Egypt as a teenager, divorced and moved with the kids to the U.S. almost four years ago. The close-knit family of five lives in a small two-bedroom apartment in North Austin apartment and exists on her income from house cleaning. Sajeda, who most resembles her mother of all the kids, has been a great support to her mother and handles responsibilities not required of the typical preteen.
Fatima has dubbed her the Safety Monitor because of her ability to keep a keen eye on the others, especially Mosbah, an aspiring scientist who is known to try out his school science experiments at home.
More than that, she’s also the second disciplinarian in the home.
“I make sure the kids aren’t making a lot of noise because we don’t want to disturb the neighbor downstairs,” she said. “I also make sure they’re nice to each other, especially the twins, because they argue a lot.”
“She tells us to behave and to listen,” said Layal. “And she cooks good spaghetti.”
Fatima usually makes a meal for the family before she leaves for work but there are days when her capable assistant steps in to stir up some good grub for the family.
“The kids love Sajeda’s fried eggs,” she said. “She also knows how to make pancakes. It’s a big help to me. I wasn’t like her when I was little. She reminds me of my younger sister Safa, who lives in Cairo. She just takes care of everybody.”
Sajeda loves to dance and enjoys playing the violin. She’s teaching Layal to play “Jingle Bells” for the holidays.
She dreams of one day becoming a surgeon or a dentist. If she had to choose between the two, it would be dentist.
“I love when they’re picking around my teeth,” she said. “I want to do that one day. I just want to help people.”
The family needs a reliable SUV, classes for Babiker to improve her English, cosmetology classes for Babiker, as well as bedding for twin beds and one queen, and gift cards for groceries and clothing.
To find out more about the Babiker family, contact Caritas of Austin 512-646-1277, caritasofaustin.org.