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28 Oct 2022
In recognition of Women’s Day, Peace Parks Foundation celebrates the achievements of a young, talented seamstress in a community adjacent to the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve in Mozambique, who has taken an inspiring journey towards reaching her dreams.
26-year-old Helena Libilo had no work opportunities before the launch of a technical training programme, organised by Peace Parks Foundation and supported by Fondation Ensemble, in the Ponta da Ouro and Maputo Special reserves.
“I used to have no job and no income. I was sewing fabrics by hand, but only to make dresses for me and my sisters,” says Helena.
Helena always had a dream of becoming a fashion designer and starting her own small business. The training programme provided an opportunity which she grabbed with both hands. The programme offers technical training courses from the Instituto de Formação Profissional Estudos Laborais Alberto Cassimo, targeted at young people in the communities around the reserves.
“I was informed that the course was being offered, so I applied and I learnt a lot. I can do a bit of everything now,” says Helena.
Helena was given a Singer sewing machine and an iron to get her business up and running. She now earns up to 15 000 mt (US$200) per month, which has significantly improved the lives of her and her family. Her business is still growing, and providing opportunities for other members of the community.
I bought two more machines and another iron. I don’t depend on my husband to buy what I want. I can buy clothes for me and my children, and I can even buy food for my home. I also employed a young man from the community.
This hard-working entrepreneur is an outstanding example of a woman with strength, independence and the perseverance to overcome her challenges.
Overall, the technical training programme has trained 98 young people in fields such as hospitality and tourism, catering, construction, mechanics, metalwork, carpentry and many others.
“With this training, the youth of our communities are able to secure a source of income to improve their livelihoods and reduce the dependence on the natural resources in conservation areas, while also being able to take advantage of job opportunities available in different tourism developments in the region.” Says Miguel Gonçalves, Warden of Maputo Special Reserve and Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve.
Community development is an integral part of the Peace Parks philosophy, and thousands of women, and men, are benefitting from a wide variety of programmes, focusing on agriculture and food security, sustainable resource management, alternative energy, reproductive health and nature-based economic opportunities, amongst others.
In addition, through the SA College for Tourism that operates under the auspices of Peace Parks, more than 70 unemployed women are trained each year in operational and management skills for the lodge and guesthouse industry, with more than 88% of them deployed in the hospitality industry the year following their studies.