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Happy Christmas 2022 from Sierra Leone
Without a job, Habiba wanted to find a way to develop a new skill set and help change the lives of those around her. Along with others in her community, she established the Dreamtown Soap Making Centre. The vision of the centre was to equip young women and girls who were living on the streets or had been victims of gender or sexual-based violence with skills and build a community for them.
‘I established the soap-making centre for those who can’t do anything and for those who are victims. We encourage them to come and be part of it and learn something, so that they don’t depend on people’.
As the only woman on the committee, Habiba’s job was to bring in young women and girls to be involved at the Centre. Habiba’s leadership and initiative resulted in her being made the Chair Person for the project.
Gender and sexual-based violence is a real threat to women and girls in Dreamtown and Freetown. These experiences can leave the women and girls with trauma, they can also end up living on the streets, separated from their families, or isolated from their communities.
‘If these girls weren’t part of the project, they would have gone astray and suffered. They would have believed that no one cares about them and loves them’.
Habiba and the others at the Centre equip the girls with the physical skills of the soap-making process as well as the practical aspects of running a business (including sales and negotiations). The girls also earn a wage. The Centre encourages the girls back to school by paying half of their school fees.
‘We can’t say we are perfect because we can’t provide all of their needs, but we are trying’.
Habiba has been instrumental in forming a sense of community between the girls. She has become a role model and mother figure to these girls.
‘I’m like their mother, no differentiation and no discrimination among all of them. They even call me mum’.
Habiba understands how difficult it can be for young women and girls to thrive through difficulty.
‘I’m a victim too and I’m part of the community of victims. So I don’t just get it, I went through the difficulties too. I’m a single mother. I understand what it means to be a victim going through difficulties. That’s why I’m encouraging women, so that they don’t face the same experiences’.
Habiba reflects that the lives of the women and girls at the Centra has significantly changed.
‘That’s our benefit, it makes us happy’.
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