Empowerment through tailoring for Somali woman
Sarah Hassan Abdi, 41, has gone through a lot of physical abuse, but she put the experiences behind her, and now concentrates on her tailoring business. Meticulously working on outfits such as dresses, she has new vivacity for life. Her face glows with commitment.
Sitting at her work station in Lusaka tailoring her clients’ outfits, it could be difficult to believe the amount of abuse Sarah faced. She has used the subsistence allowance she receives every three months from AAH Zambia to empower herself. She spent ZMW 750 (USD 75) for purchasing a sewing machine,
Sarah’s tailoring business now caters for clients from the host community as well as refugees. She earns about USD 10 profit, a month.
Sarah, who ails from Somalia, came to Zambia in 2004 with her husband. She suffered several years of abuse at his hands. “We divorced in 2010 due to the physical and emotional abuse he put me through. As a result, I started living alone. I found a job as a nanny for a couple who had a disabled child but that was the beginning of my problems,” Sarah reveals.
“In 2014 my ex-husband traced my whereabouts and began forcing me to have our 10-year-old daughter circumcised (Female Genital Mutilation). When l objected to his demands, he assaulted me.”
But from last year, Sarah received protection from AAH Zambia through the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees, a department in the Ministry of Home Affairs that looks after the welfare of refugees in Zambia. She already has tailoring and designing skills. “I use the profit from my business to meet the remaining food and educational requirements for my three children,” she says.
Sarah is currently accommodated at Makeni Transit Centre, which is managed by AAH Zambia, as she awaits resettlement.