Age 46, 8 Children. Salon.

Josephine doesn’t say much, but she has a strong presence. She is shy in the way that doesn’t mean she is unsure of herself, but in the way that is more comfortable as an observer. She uses this observance to excel at the skills she is learning in the hairdressing course in order to change her life. It is in this recognition that she has the ability to alter her own future that she derives power.

Josephine has led a heartbreaking life. The mother of 8 children, she is reminded daily of her poverty as she tries to give them the best life she can. At one time she had a husband and life seemed more secure. He was working and earning a little bit of money while she did all the farming and household chores to provide their food. When he lost his job his pride kept him from helping out in other ways he could and she watched her family fall deeper and deeper into poverty. Soon they were unable to pay their rent in the trading center where they were living, so her husband insisted they return to his ancestral village where he had a home, further distancing Josephine from her already distant family.

DSC01206As a woman does, Josephine followed orders. She moved herself and her 8 children to this village of her husband’s where she knew no one, comforted only by the fact that her husband might find a new sense of pride and work ethic at home. He continued to travel to the trading center looking for work. His absences became longer and longer until it was clear he was not intent on returning. Josephine had been abandoned in her husband’s village with no resources and 8 children to care for.

Naturally Josephine was in despair. She feared for her family and didn’t believe she would ever be able to find a way to care for them. She was deeply hurt but the force of motherhood was stronger than her pain and she began finding odd jobs to do. She would dig for the other villagers and in return would receive some food and a little money. She found some work at a bar and would sell small things on the side of the road. Somehow, she started over but still lived in a state of fear.

When the opportunity to join the center came along she saw hope. She joined the hairstyling group and learned how to do some styles that she could offer to women in the village to earn a little money. Slowly, confidence replaced fear and possibility replaced despair. Josephine dreams of running a salon and with the business management and finance course she has been able to better manage her money and plan for the future. Listening to Josephine talk about her future, it is hard to believe that at one point this determined and talented woman believed she couldn’t do anything of value with her life. She emphasizes how happy she is to be moving forward toward her goals and that despite her very hard life, she will succeed.

Josephine’s advice: Have courage in yourself. You can have a better life. Do not fear that you are nothing. You are capable of anything.


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