- Kate Wilson


It was very special welcoming Hope to the Mulberry Mongoose workshop. Hope’s story is a reminder of the strength, bravery and resilience of our team of Mulberry Mongoose ladies.

Hope’s mother, Miriam Mbewe, has worked with us for two years. I still remember the day I met her. She came to the workshop with a friend and they both competed heavily during our assessment centre, they really needed the work.

Miriam was fortunate enough to get the job and we were lucky to have found her. It was very rewarding watching her excel at jewellery making and even woodwork. She took great pride in being able to do carpentry having grown up in a world where it was considered men’s work. Miriam is excitable with an infectious personality; she loves a party.

I think that same sense of adventure, or maverick spirit, are probably what got her into trouble. Financially and personally Miriam has had a lot of challenges.

Miriam, who lost both her parents very young, had her first child, Joyce, at 14 years old. She dropped out of school at grade 9 and lived with her sister. Life was not easy.

Miriam got pregnant again last year. She wasn’t married and whilst she truly believed he would care for her, the father disowned her and the baby. Miriam was already struggling and now had a second child to support. To make matters worse she was rushed to hospital at 8 months. She spent a month in a hospital bed and we thought we would loose her and her baby. The health facilities were basic at best and yet somehow, against the odds, she and her little girl (born one month premature) pulled through.

It was an absolute relief to see Miriam again. She asked me to name her baby as a thank you for the support given throughout the difficult time. Mulberry Mongoose acted as her family; we were able to give financial and emotional support. Being such a small team of women we all know and care for each other like a family.

We called her little girl Hope. To see Miriam smiling in front of me, after thinking I wouldn’t see her again, was extraordinary. What is more, through the whole ordeal, Miriam had become happier, more focused and more grateful. She knew her role was to care for her children and she was getting her life together. Hope was the natural choice of name for a little girl who survived against the odds and who brought happiness to a Mum who had gone through so much.


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