11.25.2012

A Typical Day for an Amani Liberia Woman: Esther, Regina, Yei, and Darlene

Esther

Esther, a 39-year-old mother and grandmother, wakes up at 5:30am each morning. “I carry the bucket to the pump. If you cannot carry the bucket soon, you will not get water!” she shares with wide eyes that giving the impression that this lady has had to deal with a dry pump on more than one occasion, and doesn’t plan on letting it happen again.

Esther prepares food for her family and sends her children off to school. Then, she sometimes goes to the market to buy food for her family or her bucket. She runs a micro business from her head---she sells pepper, spices, candies, ground pea candy (peanut brittle), and other treats out of a plastic bucket she carries allover the community.

At Amani, Esther cuts cloth or learns to sew. She has only been at Amani for about a month but already feels intense community amongst her coworkers. “We are here together, friendly...if I am not here, I am missing these people,” she says, looking about the room.

After work, Esther often goes to night school, where she is currently completing 9th grade. Her favorite part about school is reading “They got some good stories in it!” she says of her school books, then rattles off the plot of a story she is reading this week about some farmers with a car---“their own car!”---she exclaims.

Esther


Regina
Regina, 33, wakes up at 4am each day. She makes breakfast for her family and walks “a looong time” to gather clean water. She bathes her 3 children and sends them off to school.

“Then I will go to the market to buy food, then I dress, and come to work.”

Regina usually cutes cloth, but is a highly capable seamstress who is rapidly learning to master new products each day, which she lists on her fingers with satisfaction:  “I make hot pad, coaster, belt, napkins, and placemat.”
In addition to developing lifelong sewing skills each day, Regina is earning income for her family. “I love Amani---Amani is helping me, I am getting money to send my children to school. I want for Amani to continue so I get work to do every day.
Regina


Yei
Yei, 20, wakes up at 4am, “and I work on small-small things” like cooking and cleaning. She baths her children and cooks. After arriving at Amani, she begins to produce a variety of products. One of the most complicated pieces Yei makes is what she calls teddy bears, a blanket term used here for stuffed animals (Amani’s “teddy bear” is actually an elephant backpack for children).

“I learned to sew at Amani. I also have a machine at home, and I make skirts.” Yei says.

Yei is very thankful for her job at Amani, which has come to prove essential to her young son’s future. When asked where her bi-monthly paycheck goes, she explains with an air of gentle determination. “I will do good things with it, like pay for my child’s school.”

Yei


Darlene
Darlene, 27, wakes up at 5:30am each day. “I clean my room, I put hot water on, bathe my daughter and find breakfast for her, then send her to school.

“After that, I will get ready, and put my market down (sets it up).” Her market stall sells cosmetics, shoes, clothing, and other odds and ends.

Darlene’s family has adjusted to every curve ball life has thrown at them. Her mother was unable to care for her two little sisters, so both live with Darlene and her husband. When Darlene comes to Amani, one sister tends to her market stall while the other goes to school. In the afternoon, the two trade places.

Darlene started her market stall with a $100 loan from Amani Liberia over a year ago, which she promptly paid back and has now increased ten-fold. She has plans to expand into an appliance shop soon.

Clearly, Darlene is already a savvy businesswoman, and has the perfect skill set to train as the manager for Amani Liberia’s Café, which is currently under construction. Darlene is learning many useful tasks at Amani, further broadening her already considerable resume. Some tasks are easier, like cutting, but some are challenging. “Working here requires learning,” says Darlene. She seems happy to meet the challenge.

Darlene

To see Ophelia, Felicia, and Theresa's stories, click here.

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