Jacinta Mukolwe and her husband, John, live and work in Arusha, Tanzania. In 2014, she became aware of a group of people forgotten by society — young single mothers between the ages of 17 and 20.
Most had become pregnant through sexual assault or because of the realities of poverty. A day’s work in the coffee fields yields 25 cents in wages. In comparison, they can be offered $5 for sex — the equivalent of twenty days work. When many are expected to help support the family, pressures are enormous. If food is scarce, or if a girl does not have the family’s protection or provision, she often falls victim to exploitation. Once pregnant (and often HIV positive), she is seen as a shame to her family with few options for herself or her children.
Jacinta became convinced that she should learn more about these women and how to help them. She invited several young mothers to her house for a meal, and told them to invite others they knew. Twenty-seven women arrived for on her doorstep!
During the meal, each woman shared a desire to learn a skill that would support their children. In response, Jacinta began a sewing group. She named the group “Waliokumbukwa,” which means, The One Who Remembered Us.
When a group of Loomers visited Tanzania two years ago, we sat down with Jacinta to learn more about her work and any needs she might have. As she talked, we saw her excitement in providing the girls with a tangible skill that was changing their lives, as well as teaching them their worth and rebuilding their identity. However, Jacinta also revealed to us that she felt stuck. Her strength was in pursuing relationships with the girls and providing training, but she wasn’t versed in other business skills such as how to create a budget, or track finances and wages.
Loom worked with Jacinta to set up a simple budget and book-keeping system that was suitable for her context and easy to manage. We provided her training through our Celebrating Children Workshop where she learnt more about how to work with at-risk youth.
Over the past year, she has met weekly with a one-on-one coach to help her set and attain goals in her ministry. From this coaching has come a new vision : to open a small storefront where students could have guaranteed employment after graduation and practice good business skills to better equip them for their future.
This Fall, we are launching a new fundraiser to Give a Second Chance to these young women and their families. Together, we can raise the $2800 needed for Jacinta to open this store and have the supplies to launch her new business, which she is calling The Second Chance.
Together these women are learning a skill that will enable them to be financially independent and take care of their families. And their hopes for their children? That they get to stay in school and that nothing holds them back from the bright future they deserve.