Tsungi located to Dangamvura suburb in Mutare at the age of 18 hoping to get a job and a better life. Her father was against the idea of his daughter living alone far away from their rural home; he wanted her to go back to school since she had failed her Ordinary Levels. When she got to Mutare she was surprised to see her peers who had better education failing to get jobs, others were vendors at a nearby market. Life in the city was far from what she expected!
“When I got to the city life proved to be very difficult, I stayed with a distant aunt and had to leave after a few days since she was also struggling to provide food for her family and pay her rentals. I became desperate and ended up in the hands of my nephew who survived on commercial sex work. Since then, my life completely changed.”
Tsungi suffered abuse from men who forced her to have unprotected sex; some robbed her of her hard-earned money. While she feared to go back home to her father, the thought of contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) frightened her even more. One day a peer educator from CESHAAR approached her and invited her to join the DREAMS project.
“The DREAMS project changed my life completely. I joined the Social Asset Building Club and ISALS group where I was taught a lot about entrepreneurship. I managed to borrow start-up money for small projects and that ignited my interest in business.”
Through the DREAMS project Tsungi was empowered with information on HIV Treatment Services (HTS), she also learnt about DREAMS partners where she could easily get support on family planning, mental health and Gender Based Violence (GBV). The DREAMS journey led her to Mutare Vocational Centre where she was trained in garment construction. This was a dream come true for her as sewing was her passion.
Soon after her training she worked for a community tailor where she improved her sewing and designing skills before she managed to acquire a manual hand sewing machine. Determined as she was, she raised more money and managed to upgrade her machine, she now owns an electric machine which is more efficient.
Tsungi quickly identified a gap in her community and started sewing face masks which she is selling to community members and local schools. She also identified a market for school uniforms and African print garments. Her family now looks up to her for financial support.
“The DREAMS project ignited the business woman in me. I am an example to my peers that there is always a second chance in life. I take every opportunity to encourage my peers to quit sex work and join the DREAMS project where life is re-defined.”