Harriet came to live with us last year when she was 16 years old, with a one week old baby. Her mother was sick, the family had no food, and things were desperate.
Having never been to school, Harriet joined Literacy, then went on to Tailoring. She graduated from Basic Tailoring when we were there in April and is now in Advanced Tailoring – here she’s learning to use an interlocking machine. She’s quiet but smart and focused and happy, and doing really well.
But now her mother is making her leave.
Her mother has decided to return to her village with Harriet and her siblings, so that Harriet can support the family with tailoring. (Reminder, Harriet is now just 17 years old and not finished with her training…)
These are the situations that are so discouraging for me and for the team. As a mom in the West, I can’t imagine making my child leave an opportunity to take care of me. For the team, who sees what happens to these girls in villages, they worry for Harriet’s future health and safety.
And you know what? There’s nothing we can do about it. That sucks.
Damalie and Sarah spent a long time yesterday talking to Harriet, and she said she has no choice but to do what her mother is asking of her. Legally, it’s a little grey, but in their culture, it’s unambiguous. Harriet will, at 17, become responsible for feeding, housing, and clothing five other people.
So what do we do now?
We are putting together a video for DonorSee to get Harriet a non-electric sewing machine and basic supplies. She will also take her mattress with her, and the clothing and other items she’s been given in the year since she arrived. We normally do a “exit package” that include food and household goods, but we feel the machine is the most important thing.