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An aspiring business woman

May 4th, 2022

Mamush, 18, is dependent on her mother. When she was 8 years old, her father separated from her mother. Her mother took up the responsibilities of taking care of her and her siblings. Sadly, her poultry business collapsed on the onset of the Covid -19 pandemic leaving her with no choice but to sell milk from her cow earning approximately €3.08 a day. Her income, however, was not enough to cater for the family needs. Occasionally, Mamush and her family managed to only have two meals a day. As a result, Mamush was forced to start doing menial jobs when she was just 15, a situation that placed her at the risk of being exploited.

Survival

After completing her primary and secondary education, Mamush wanted to pursue tertiary education but was unable to do so due to financial constraints. At the age of 15 years, Mamush started working as a house help during school holiday breaks (April, August and December) to supplement the family income and get pocket money. However the workload was very heavy for her and the pay was very dismal. While working, she would wake up at 5 am, clean the house, do laundry and prepare the employer’s child for school. Thereafter, she prepared the meals for the whole household with the chores extending into the evening leaving her with little time to study or rest. Her work life was, however, cut short as the employer found a permanent househelp. The following year, she opted for another alternative and started working at a small food place over the weekends and was being paid €0.78 per day. This also didn't last for long and in 2020, she went to support her brother’s business (a small shop selling French fries locally known as chips). At the shop, she worked as a waitress during the school holidays and was not being paid at all. A few months later, Mamush was fed up and decided to leave. At 17 years old, she had seen it all, working for long hours, poorly paid and was not able to make decisions on her welfare.

Hopeless

Things were not working out as Mamush would want them to. Instead of staying home, she would attend the Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA) sessions once or twice depending on how the forums were being conducted during school breaks. Nonetheless, she was not able to join the group as a member. In June 2021, she decided to try work life again. She got a sales and marketing casual job, hawking electronics like Tv decoders. In a week, she was engaged twice, selling from door to door and paid approximately € 3.85. However, the long distances only made her sad as she was, “Hopeless with no direction at all.’’

Positive shift

While attending the GAA sessions, Mamush admired how the Girls and Young Women (GYW) in the Maweni group conducted themselves. She loved how the girls expressed themselves and was particularly impressed by the assistant Chairlady of the Maweni group.

Luckily, In June 2021 the She Leads project team was conducting inception in Kwale County. Because of her passion, Mamush asked the program officer if she could be part of the group. In October 2021 after going through the recruitment process, she was enrolled in the program. Additionally, she was also assisted and applied for the Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities Project (KYEOP), a skill-based course that she is currently undertaking. 

“Through KYEOP, I have learnt how to make right decisions, react to different life situations, consider others perspectives and have a positive attitude.”

So far, Mamush has been sensitised on social norms both during the She Leads forums and exchange forums, learnt about the harmful social norms carried out within the community, met with county women leaders and also participated in the annual Human rights scorecard launch.

Future aspirations

Currently, Mamush attends her classes from 8 am to around 4.30 pm. In the evening she works part-time in a small hotel along the coastal beach. As of now, she can contribute to the family income and is hopeful to further her education, join college to study business management and become a successful business woman. “She Leads has enabled me to see things in a different way; girls have the right and ability to develop themselves just like any other person.” She concluded.

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