There is joyful excitement this month in Mother’s Heart as five young mothers graduate from vocational training courses provided by Mother’s Heart partner organisations Open Arms and SCARO and begin work with fair hours and wages.
This is no small achievement in a country where 30% of the population is below the poverty line and few favours are granted to women with a crisis pregnancy. Working extremely hard to overcome challenges in literacy and gain the ‘soft skills’ suitable for employment, the graduates are ready for work.
Most women entering Mother’s Heart have minimal education without work skills. Their best hope is often factory work or the risky life of Karaoke bars, where they can expect to work 10 to 12 hours a day, without holidays, for wages from $50 to $80 per month. These are harsh conditions for a single person let alone a woman attempting to raise a child.
Mother’s Heart funds its women to attend the training programmes of Open Arms and SCARO. Putting its motto “From Training to Enterprise -From poverty to Freedom” into practice, Open Arms trains under privileged young people in a variety of occupations. The Mother’s Heart women have just completed a 9 week cooking and 4-week cleaning course where they learnt a range of skills, from customer service and producing Western meals to personal hygiene and keeping a restaurant clean.
Two more Mother’s Heart’s women have completed SCARO’s one week cleaning course. The beauty of SCARO is that through its extensive employer network, it guarantees job placement and follow-up for each graduate.
A daunting moment for many graduates is the job interview. A Mother’s Heart’s staff member goes with them and asks the questions they still don’t quite dare to ask; ‘If my baby is sick am I allowed to ask for time to care for her?’ "What public holidays am I entitled to?"
Four Mother’s Heart graduates are beginning work in February while their babies are cared for at the Mother’s Heart Day Care (Little Lambs). They will receive starting wages from $90 to $100 for approximately 40 hours per week, two with organisations and three with private families.
One woman was spotted during her training to have the ability to teach other women and has been taken on as a trainer at Open Arms. Another will have the opportunity in the future to express her creative flair through learning to produce cakes and sweet delicacies.
Each of these women and their babies have a future vastly different to the one scripted for them. They are working and assured of providing for their babies and themselves.