Mary’s Story

Mary is the eldest of 6 children and lives at home with her mother and stepfather.  It is a loving family environment but they live under real financial pressure. Her stepfather works causally as a security guard but the work is infrequent.  There is the desire to see their children thriving but simply they don’t have the means to provide further education opportunities.  For many girls, even those from supportive families, it is the financial pressure on the family that forces them to leave home or into relationships which are driven financial necessity.  The girls have few choices within such relationships and the cycle of poverty continues.

Mary’s grandfather had heard about WEEDO and made the introduction in 2019 as the organisation was starting up.  Mary has been a star at the organisation since she first started.  A natural leader she immediate started to assist the staff in organising the girls as she also studied alongside them. A very smart young woman, she really enjoyed the finance and small business classes as part of the entrepreneurship training.  However, her real passion is for fashion and design and she has proven exceptionally creative and hardworking in this area.  She was one of the most enthusiastic participants in the Swahili Fashion Week preparation and events, joining the professional models on the stage on national TV – to the great delight of her family. Mary graduated in December 2019.

Upon graduation, WEEDO was able to secure sponsorship for Mary to attend the Institute of Fashion Technology. On completion of the course she joined the WEEDO staff full-time where she teaches on the tailoring and sewing course.  With her first pay check she provided her month a small amount of capital to start a small informal business buying and selling fruit and vegetables. With her second cheque she invested in a foot-powered sewing machine and has created her own small tailoring business where she has a growing number of customers in Kigamboni but also in Dar.  Through her own hard work and enthusiasm Mary is flourishing and is contributing to her family. She is able to continue to live at home. She is under no pressure to leave and will be able to do so at a time of her own choosing.  For now she remains single and is eager to retain her independence as she establishes her business and continues to teach at WEEDO.  She is a fantastic example of what a small investment can do for a girl – and how it can greatly improve her life but also that of her family.

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