Our bright, passionate under grad, Natalia Noyen interviews Miriam who has been with Mulberry Mongoose since 2016.
I have never encountered so many people from one place of work telling me that their job has made them who they are. Yet, every person that I have had the pleasure of interviewing at Mulberry Mongoose says just that. So why is it that these strong women are so devoted to working there? Miriam Mbewe shares her reasons...
Miriam is 25 years old, and has an 8 year old little girl, named Joyce. She has had an incredibly difficult childhood and had to grow up fast. When Miriam was just 12 years old, her parents passed away. Her mother died due to a 'shortage of blood', but the reality is she lived far away from her relatives and could not reach basic health care in time. With medical assistance her Mum might still be alive today. Miriam's father's cause of death was kept from her. . at 12 years old she faced a life without parental support.
As an orphan Miriam struggled through school. By her own admission she didn't work hard, she struggled to focus and explains that the emotional distress of loosing her parents didn't help. She found solace in all the wrong ways and ended up pregnant and single at 17 years old, leaving school by Grade 9.
Thankfully, her friend mentioned that Mulberry Mongoose were hiring and Miriam attended the interviews. Miriam believes she was chosen to work for Mulberry Mongoose because of her passion. The culture of the company is to seek out people who will work hard to grow their skills and make the most of the opportunity, they don't necessarily look for people already trained or with great exam results. Mulberry Mongoose understands the difficulties young women face in the local area; to give a chance to someone who will work hard to achieve is part of their ethos.
Mulberry Mongoose has provided Miriam with more than she could have ever imagined; without the job “I could not be myself today”. In 2017, Miriam lost her second daughter, Hope. It was a tragic time with the whole team very distressed. Hope had been born at 7 months and both mother and daughter nearly died in childbirth. With the help of Mulberry Mongoose, Miriam was able to give Hope all the medical attention available but her little girl passed away in hospital at 1 years old. Miraim discusses that without her work she does not know where she would be. To have the team's emotional support over this tragic time, as well as essential financial assistance was a huge help to her.
Miriam also discussed the pride she feels for working towards bettering her community. She knows that, by converting poachers' snares into beautiful jewellery, she is removing a deadly weapon from circulation and making donations towards funding more essential anti snare patrols. Mulberry Mongoose has made over $100,000 for anti-snare patrols from jewellery sales so far. Miriam is given respect for being an artisan, a working mother and for helping to protect the South Luangwa; an area where essential employment from tourism greatly benefits the local population.
Miriam loves Tuesdays at work best. She comes in to meet with her co-workers, and they're able to sit and share stories about their families and are constantly speaking on how to improve work. When asking if she loves what she does she replied saying “Very very very very so much I love what I do”. I am so inspired by these wonderful Zambian ladies’ devotion and passion to their work. I hope to find it myself.
By Natalia Noyen