Daniela’s Story

Daniela originally comes from rural Musoma in the Northern area of Tanzania. In this area of Tanzania women and girls have a very tough time.  Incidences of FGM and domestic abuse are commonplace as is child labour. Just like many other girls there she was removed from school after primary level and was forced to work from the age of 11. She was expected to sell peanuts or fruit and bring money back to the family. At the age of 15 she was told she would need to leave to go to Dar es Salaam to earn more money for the family.

Life in Dar was just as tough and challenges for Furaha as it had been at home – and perhaps worse.  She got a job in domestic service for a family, working 16 hour days, 7 days per week, earning just $17 per month. Very soon after starting they stopped paying her altogether. They knew full well that she could not leave because she had no money, no food and nowhere to stay.  Worse still she was forced to work every hour without rest and with significant levels of verbal and emotional abuse.  Still too common in Tanzania, this was tantamount to slavery. Furaha had heard about WEEDO and secured a place.  Her ‘employers’ were initially keen because they thought she would learn new skills that would be useful for them so indicated that so long as she finished her work duties early she could attend WEEDO.  Very quickly they changed their minds and began sending Furaha on errands at a distance so she could not attend WEEDO programmes.  In the end Furaha confronted the ‘employers’ and asked for the money she was owed.  They immediately threw all of her possessions out of the house and told her to leave. For many girls such desperate circumstances, with nowhere to turn, lead to prostitution, substance abuse or even suicide.

In despair Furaha approached Rehema, WEEDO’s Executive Director.  At this time WEEDO did not have a safe house but Rehema organised a safe place for her to stay while she continued at WEEDO and provided her with her food and transport costs to make this viable. At this point she was just 17 years old with no money, no family, and a very bleak future ahead.  Given a chance to study full-time, Furaha took the opportunity with both hands.  She was enthusiastic and engaged in all the classes. However, she quickly demonstrated and love for, and talent in, tailoring and fashion design. She proved herself to be a leader amongst the other girls with a flair for the entrepreneurial classes. As a result of her life experience, she was proved a valuable friend and counsellor to her fellow students and has also been a great ambassador for WEEDO, identifying other young women and girls to attend.

Furaha’s life has been transformed in just 18 months.  She now has a fulltime job with the Matrix bag company in Dar, utilising her sewing and creative skills. She has a place of her own, and a steady income. For the first time in her life, she is able to make life choices for herself.  WEEDO has provided the education and counselling to help ensure that those choices are informed and smart.  We are delighted that she is still involved with WEEDO as an ambassador and that she will return to join the Swahili Fashion Week this year. We are really proud of her and pleased for her.

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