Rukia, an AIDS Orphan, Becomes a Business Owner in Tanzania
Rukia, an inspired 20-year old woman, overcame a childhood full of obstacles and fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning her own business. She was just in primary school when her mother passed away from AIDS-related illness. Left alone with five other siblings and no income, her family immediately sunk into poverty. Desperate, Rukia was taken in by an older brother, Emmanuel, who sold small wares in a nearby village. A few years passed, and life for Rukia and her brother grew more difficult as their financial struggles increased. Eventually, she was forced to quit school. Just when it seemed that there was no hope for Rukia’s future, things turned around.
Rukia was identified as an “orphan or vulnerable child” by the Tutunzane project, which is supported by CDC through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Tutunzane works at the community level to help orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS. Through vocational training, this organization has provided more than 1400 individuals with skills to access a sustainable livelihood and through this economic strengthening, has been able to relieve some of the burden caused by the HIV epidemic.
Once connected with Tutanzane, Rukia enrolled in a six-month tailoring course. Noting her exceptional performance, course instructors asked her to train other young women who had also enrolled in the program. Rukia saved the extra money she was earning and opened her own tailoring shop, which has allowed her to help support her siblings and maintain her financial independence. Now married, Rukia looks forward to watching her business grow as she continues to pass her skills along to other young women, including five individuals who manage their own work as well.