Besides its humanitarian work, Mustadafin Foundation is a 35-year-old organisation that supports and encourages the empowerment of women, according to its director, Ghairunisa Johnstone-Cassiem.
Mustadafin has a 95% female staff complement, and this, Ms Johnstone-Cassiem said, highlights the importance that the upliftment of women at the foundation is not just something that happens for the month of August, but for every day of the year.
Mariam Farmer has been employed with Mustadafin since 2000. She was among the hundreds of people being fed by the organisation.
“Unemployed, with children in a community that is surrounded with darkness and a life filled with bad choices, I felt very hopeless. I knew I had to do something to provide for my family, so I looked for help from others in my community. I then found Mustadafin. Every day I would stand in their line for food. One day the director, Ghairunisa, noticed me. She asked me to come volunteer. That was the beginning of my journey with Mustadafin,” Ms Farmer said.
She started off volunteering as a cleaner. Not long thereafter, she was employed by the organisation and sent for numerous courses and skilled training sessions.
“Today I can proudly say that I went from no qualification to a qualified home-based carer. I have been part of Mustadafin for over 21 years and am currently employed as a cook. Mustadafin did not just look after me but also made sure my children’s needs and education are seen to. I am forever grateful for the opportunities they gave me in life. This organisation gave me strength and hope again.”
Candice Solomons has been employed with Mustadafin since 2007, and because of her work, she learnt to read and write.
“My story goes back 10 years, when I could not read or write. One day I was offered the opportunity to work at Mustadafin Foundation as a home-based carer, which I loved dearly. After some time in this role, I wanted to do more. I spoke to my colleague who is Mustadafin’s adult literacy programme facilitator, and I joined the programme,” Ms Solomons said.
She added: “What was so captivating was seeing that I was not the only one with this problem. I was a part of a class of women motivated to overcome literacy struggles. Many of these women who complete Mustadafin’s literacy programme improve the quality of their lives and open themselves up to employment opportunities. Today I’m able to read and write and the best part is that I’m an Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioner at Mustadafin Foundation. I’m able to share my skills with the little ones.”