A Mother’s Story of Love, Hope and Resilience
Joyce, a single mother of five children, an adopted niece and nephew and two grandchildren, is a proud Bawa Hope artisan who specializes in making beaded jewelry. She loves her work and through her modest earnings provides for her family and has even seen her eldest daughter through university.
Just a few months ago, the future looked promising, Joyce and her cohort- a group of twelve women who’s stories are a lot like hers- had just met Anne Nzilani of Bawa Hope and were optimistic about receiving a steady stream of orders from international markets for their products. But unfortunately, COVID-19 happened and with the attendant lockdowns, closed borders and disruptions that accompany a global pandemic, demand for Joyce’s products significantly reduced. But with four children still in school and two daughters living with disabilities, she is determined to do everything she can to continue providing food, shelter and medication for them.
Vera, Joyce’s second born daughter, has been living with a painful ear ailment which has led to a hearing impairment and forced her to drop out of school. After many years of trying to manage the condition with eardrops and pain killers, doctors told Joyce that Vera’s eardrums had ruptured and that she would need to use hearing aids going forward. Joyce has been unable to raise the money for the hearing aids, or for the specialized care of an audiologist. Vera is disappointed that she has been unable to continue with her education, she is however determined to enroll for vocational training so that she can learn a skill and be able to fend for herself.
Vera’s older sister, Celestine had just started her freshman year at university when a recklessly driven tractor veered off the road and ran over her right foot, almost completely severing her ankle. After emergency surgery, doctors told Joyce that Celestine’s leg needed an ankle implant at a cost of $2,000, with a further $3,000 required for physiotherapy and care. Their other option was complete amputation, which they decided against. Joyce fought for compensation from the owners of the tractor but it was not forthcoming. Doctors ended up putting Celestine’s leg back together without the ankle implant. This was not ideal however and the foot didn’t heal properly.
Celestine was tenacious and unyielding in her determination to finish school. She learned how to walk with crutches and went right back, eventually graduating in August 2019 with a degree in hospitality. She is still badly in need of the ankle implant which will allow her to walk again and find work in the hospitality industry.
Despite all these challenges, Joyce believes that her family is fortunate to have made it thus far. She tries to supplement the meager earnings from her beadwork by doing odd cleaning and laundry jobs whenever she can find them. Her prayer is that orders at Bawa Hope will soon start to grow again. Until then, Joyce soldiers on bravely. Click here to watch Joyce’s story.
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