Chipo (20) has an older brother and younger sister, and lives in a high-density, very poor area of Harare called Epworth. Chipo’s father was unemployed, so she was only able to complete her education to Form 2 (age 14). Leaving school with no qualifications meant that it was almost impossible for Chipo to find formal employment, and she was vulnerable to being trafficked for exploitative labour or commercial sex work.
Chipo’s aunt was a tailoring instructor at Oasis Zimbabwe, so Chipo moved to Kambazuma to stay with her aunt and join the tailoring course. Sadly Chipo’s aunt then died, so Chipo had to move back to Epworth and travel for 2 hours each way, every day, to continue the course. She worked hard and enjoyed learning to sew many different items, such as curtains, clothes and bags. Chipo’s confidence in herself also began to increase.
After graduating from Oasis in 2010, Chipo was only able to use her sewing machine when her family had money to fuel their generator, as there is no municipal electricity in her area of Epworth. Since she was not able to produce items in large numbers to sell at home, Chipo began applying for jobs, and secured employment at a clothing factory in downtown Harare in January 2011. Chipo now works six days a week sewing seat covers and curtains. She enjoys her job and has received high praise from her manager and colleagues, and is also able to work on her own customer orders in her lunch break. Chipo’s salary helps to provide food for her family, as well as paying for school fees, medicines, new furniture, and for the family home to be repainted.
From April – October 2011 Chipo returned to Oasis Zimbabwe to complete a course in setting up your own business, including skills such as budgeting, marketing and communication. Chipo was grateful that the Oasis course taught her how to manage her orders and income, how to talk to customers and how to be patient in her work. She said, “I know everything I need to know now, to do this on my own. I hope to save money to return to school and take my O’Level exams.” Chipo also agreed to return to Oasis in 2012, to share her experience with the next intake of young women on the skills training course.
August 2014 Up-date:
Oasis is still in contact with Chipo today and she continues to work at the tailoring factory in the centre of Harare. She also makes and sells her own tailored items from home. She is now married and has a little boy, but still works full-time. She occasionally comes to the Oasis centre to use the industrial-capacity machines for orders.