Let’s support young people doing small businesses

I recently met a girl called ‘Zai’. She has a fascinating story of resilience. But the greatest lesson in her story is that our young people must never give up, no matter the challenges they come across with.

Zai was a Form Four leaver. Unfortunately, she failed her Form Four National exams. One day, Zai’s father, a stern man with high expectations, confronted her with disappointment in his eyes. “There is nothing else I can do for you since you have failed Form Four exams,” he said in a sordid tone. Those words struck Zai’s heart like a dagger, leaving her feeling lost and defeated. Note ‘Zai’ is not a real name but a hypothetical one.

Being determined to change her circumstances, Zai made a bold decision. She would venture to Dar es Salaam city, where opportunities seemed abundant.

With hope in her eyes and a heavy heart, she bid farewell to her beloved village and embarked on a journey to the big city. It was her grandma who provided the fare.

However, life in the city was not easy. It turned out to be harsh and unforgiving for young Zai. She found herself as a house helper in the rules of an unkind employer. To her dismay, an entire year went by without being paid. That is a story for many girls employed as house helper.

Feeling trapped and exploited, Zai confided in a kind neighbour who lived nearby.

The neighbour, moved by her plight, decided to take her in and offer her sanctuary from the hardships she faced. Little did Zai know that that act of kindness would be a turning point in her life!

Her neighbour was a compassionate and wise person. She introduced her to Mwenge Market, a vibrant part of Dar es Salaam city. Zai took a leap of faith and borrowed Sh20,000 to buy a small assortment of second-hand clothes.

When I met Zai, it had been a month since her business had started flourishing. With each sale she made, she diligently set aside a portion of her earnings to repay the money she had borrowed. After four months, I met Zai again, and said she was struggling to settle and support her parents in the village.

“One of the difficult moments in Dar was when some girls approached me to engage in prostitution” narrated Zai. However, she firmly stated that she held dear to her values and refused to compromise. Zai’s story is a testament that girls should not forsake their morals and dignity for a living.

Parents influence their children’s lives, and their decisions can profoundly impact their children’s future.

Unfortunately, there are instances where parents make choices that go against the best interests of their children. Zai’s story is a painful reminder that this can happen to other children.

Every person engaged in business has a unique story to narrate. Society needs to support business individuals by purchasing their products and contribute to their success. Zai’s journey is about resilience, hard work, and an absence of bitterness despite the many challenges encountered.

Parents should be the pillars of all support and guidance to their children, offering encouragement and understanding during difficult times.

Contrary, Zai’s father responded with a harsh dismissal of her daughter. It’s a hard reality that sometimes even those expected to protect and nurture children fail to provide the support and understanding the children’s need.

We MUST never define our kids solely on their academic performance. Every child possesses talent, dreams, and potential. All these should not be overshadowed by a single setback. For instance, for Zai’s father, instead of abandoning her, he could have explored alternative paths and solutions to help her find a true calling and achieve her dreams.

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