paths to wholeness: from survival sex to setting up a restaurant in Dzaleka refugee camp

“Tumaini (Hope) restaurant is part of community service sector and provides good meals at affordable prices. The project has moved us from vulnerable and risk lifestyles to dignity and community service.”

In 2012, a support group was formed by 15 women refugee participants who were engaging in survival sex in the Camp. They discovered that each one of them was and is willing to stop engaging in survival sex and recognized urgency of there need to identify alternative sources of generating income for them and their families.

During this process, skills auditing exercise enabled them to acknowledge the wealth of resourcefulness each one brought into the group. The best practice emerged as cumulative knowledge and experience at different levels by 6 women who had been in restaurant and food hospitality. The group made a decision in favor of starting a restaurant business. They started contributing money which was raised to MK16, 000.00 ($48) which became a tangible factor and a turning point of put-together abilities for honorable, non-deceptive alternative sources of income.

The group developed and adopted guidelines and group norms in a meeting. The construction of the restaurant started and the women contributed to non-skilled labour by carrying buckets of water to the artisans at the site. The group received a kitchen and food serving utensils to provide a hot lunch during the business training conducted by graduates of the business community service track training offered at JC:HEM.

The members got a 3 week business training. The building work completed and furniture including tables, benches, chairs, curtains and water storage bins were provided. The group accepted catering request cooking hot meal for 43 children with multiple disabilities who attend day care.

Through the announcement on the only community radio – also known as “Papa radio” – and small leaflets distributed, the restaurant opened for business with promotion breakfast:  offering wheat -flour- doughnut and on first come first serve till all food is eaten up from 7.30am to 11am on that opening day.

The group committee reported a conflict affecting the leaders and interpersonal working relationships were at jeopardy; they responded and chose to form of new committee when at that point in time, the president resigned from the group. An immediate mediation session was facilitated by an adult education coordinator. The tools used include the SARAR concept. SARAR: Self-esteem, Associative strength, Resourcefulness, Action planning and Responsibility. 

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