Married life for Ayete* with an older man was not what she had hoped. Money, most of which was borrowed, was extremely tight for them and the children. They were living in a rough corner of an already depressed municipality. Her husband frequently put her down and did not provide for her, he even tried to kill her at one point.
Ayete tried to escape once. “I did not think I was good for much”, she recalls, “I was not so smart, I thought, and would not amount to much…”
Ayete only completed 4 years of primary school, but she was a self-starter, an innovator (she knitted slippers from plastic bags) and she was motivated to finish school. When she did finally finish sredno (middle school) her teacher said that yes, indeed, she was smart.
After some time, Ayete started attending Operation Mercy’s physiotherapy clinic, Hope and Health.
“Why did you come here?” she asked the Hope and Health team.
“To help women,” we answered.
She looked at the team leader with shock and said, “No-one helps us.”
When our staff first met Ayete, she seemed to have the worst clothes but also the most potential. The team leader often told her that she was clever. She was very insightful with her kids and she had relational intelligence and potential. Ayete handled people well and might have been a psychologist under different circumstances!
After some time, someone came to Hope and Health and asked if Ayete was able to take a cleaning job. She took it. The salary was low, and she was working six days a week, seven hours a day with tired hands. But Ayete felt that something good was happening in her life. She had never worked outside the home before.
“Now my family is happy, as I bring home money and there is less fighting. Koga jac prosperieram moja detsa ke prosperierat (when I prosper, my children prosper.) There were tears all round when I was not working – now there are smiles. When I am not working everyone is complaining and fighting, but when I am working everyone is happy,” Ayete said.
Ayete now has more respect and better standing with her children and her husband.
First STEP – Motivational Meetings in Schools
Ayete has now become an unlikely role model. Her progress may seem modest but in the north part of the city, non-engagement in the workforce outside of the home is 88% amongst women.
Ayete has been able to tell her story as part of Operation Mercy’s community motivational meetings which have kicked off the pilot year of a brand new project - STEP with an aim of employability and entrepreneurship of women.