Determination and dreams

Muna Abdulsalam Mohammed is a woman who struggled with life’s difficulties and came out as a victor. She believes that life is just like the moon – it goes through phases, from the darkest moment until once again it shines bright. Muna begins her story of chasing her dream: “The happiest moment for me is when I help a person in need, because I have been down that road before and know how it feels to be deprived.”

Muna is the daughter of a Yemeni father and an Ethiopian mother. Her parents broke up when she was a year and half old. Her mother chose to stay in Ethiopia while her father brought her to Taiz in Yemen and gave her to her grandfather to raise.

Her family was not interested in education, so Muna didn’t get the chance to go to school like all the other children her age. She was dreaming of being a student: “Education is like the sun that rises and overcomes darkness," she says, talking about her love of school. Muna taught herself the alphabet while watching an educational programme called Open Sesame. She surprised her relatives when she was able to read the news title correctly on TV.

Sewing machines in Muna’s workshop


Muna got married at the age of sixteen and gave birth to a daughter and a son. Soon after, her husband died, and then her grandfather also died, leaving her alone. She then experienced the brutality of her relatives and of society, when she was thrown out of her grandfather’s house. “I fought with my relatives and was thrown out into the street,” she says. “I fell into pieces.”

In 2015 when the conflict broke out and the situation in Taiz was very dangerous, Muna moved with her son and daughter to search for work in Sana’a. She worked in a school canteen then in a men’s tailoring shop but the salary was too low so she left these jobs and began to search again.

While she was trying to find work, fortune smiled on her when she found CARE’s partner, the All Girls’ Organisation. She entered their office and was warmly welcomed and promised to be called whenever there was some work. Shortly she was called to attend a training course on women’s economic empowerment supported by CARE with funding from the H&M Foundation. The course taught her key skills in entrepreneurship, including preparing a business study and balance sheet and doing a market study. Having completed the training, Muna won a CARE grant to set up her own small business.

Muna rented a small place which she furnished and decorated, and then launched her tailoring workshop. Her dream is to turn the sewing workshop into a business specialised in unique wedding dresses and dresses for special occasions.

Muna is passionate about supporting vulnerable women, so she opened her workshop to poor or needy women – either to use the machines to finish their own dresses or to acquire sewing skills. She is arranging sewing courses in her workshop for girls who want to learn a profession, to help them earn some income and be secure.  

As a woman who suffered injustice herself, Muna always encourages women to complete their education, and she pushes her daughter and son to study. She also plans to send them out of the country to finish their education and work.

Muna is ambitious and loving. She is an example of a strong and patient woman who leaves you with an overwhelming impression of her integrity and passion.

Muna making some alterations to dresses she has made

 

 

Main picture: Muna in her tailoring workshop

 

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