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Seizing opportunities and never giving up

POSTED March 28, 2024

Seizing opportunities and never giving up

By Samuel Abdul-Rahaman

Miriam and her family together

Miriam is grateful for the life she lives now as a business owner. But her success has come through a lot of long, hard struggles and many setbacks.

She was married at 16 because her parents were unable to meet her basic needs. They couldn’t afford school expenses, including school supplies, uniforms or shoes. Pregnant soon after with her first child, Miriam’s childhood and education were suddenly over.

As a girl from a small village in northern Ghana, without an education or skills, her options were extremely limited. She became a street vendor to try and earn money for their family.

My husband got some small capital for me to sell maize. I was carrying it in a basin and moving from one location to the other to sell.”

She was able to earn a little bit of money for her hard work, but when her child was born, followed by a second child, a girl, she had to switch her focus to raising her children. Her husband continued to train to be an electrician, but his income would be low for a number of years until his apprenticeship was complete. There was no time or money to support her career aspirations.

Looking for a solution for Miriam to pursue skills training, it was decided she would move to the capital city of Accra with their infant daughter to find work as a “head potter.” Often sleeping in the streets, head potters in Ghana are mostly teenage girls who migrate to the city to carry goods for businesses in pots on their heads. It’s physically demanding work in a dangerous place for women who are living on their own.

Six months later, Miriam’s life took another turn for the worse when she was robbed. As a result, she was forced to go home with nothing to show for all her hard work. Her dream suffered another serious setback.

Never giving up

But she never gave up hope, even in this dark time. Then her patience and persistence were rewarded.

“Children Believe supported me to enroll in a dressmaking shop to learn,” she explains. “This came to me as a relief since I was not doing anything at home.”

Miriam applied for the program and was accepted; her determination made her an excellent candidate. The program helps young women like Miriam, who’ve been forced to drop out of school. But the assistance doesn’t stop when the training ends. At the training centre, Miriam learned to sew and operate her own business, with money management and budgeting. After three years of apprenticeship training, she graduated. Her life was finally moving forward.

“Even after graduating from the training, I still received start-up support (funds),” Miriam says.

“I got an additional new sewing machine to support me to establish my shop. I also received other materials like a table, chairs, scissors and more.”

Miriam is eager to share her good fortune, and has been advising other young women on how to follow in her footsteps.

I want to help others so they will not have to go through what I went through,” she smiles. “I want them to learn a skill like I did.”

Turning dreams into reality

Today, Miriam earns money by sewing dresses and school uniforms from her home, living with her husband and their two children, now nine and six. Their traditional Ghanian home includes other extended family members, such as parents, brothers and sisters, their wives and children. The household is a small community of about 20 people.

But Miriam is ambitious and is striving for a new level of success. Her next goal is to earn enough to purchase a shipping container to house her growing business. But to have her own shop, away from the family compound, means taking on her own apprentices to train in order to grow her business and client base. Miriam’s supportive husband has already bought a small parcel of land for the new shop and they are working together to save money for it.

Miriam and her husband

Believing in children

Miriam’s story is one example among many of Children Believe’s programs in Ghana, which have changed the lives of hundreds of women like her in recent years.

“The skill-training program provides an opportunity for out-of-school young people to be empowered to acquire livelihoods through vocational and technical skills,” explains Esenam Kavi De Souza, Associate Country Director for Children Believe Ghana. “We’re very proud of the accomplishments of those who have participated and made the most of their training.”

Other women, like Miriam, could benefit from the opportunity with donor support to build capacity in the program. For Miriam, she is grateful for the opportunity she had to fulfill her dream of learning a valuable skill.

“Since I graduated, my life has changed and it is better now than it used to be. I am very happy and grateful.”

Help kick-start a promising career by providing invaluable vocational and leadership training for young business owners like Miriam today.

 

 

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ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE:

Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

About ChildFund Alliance:

A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.

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