MEET ESTHER: Believe in “GRIT”

At Street Business School, we don’t believe in quick fixes. We believe in hard work, perseverance and resiliency. We believe in bookkeeping, business planning and market research. We believe in community, sisterhood and confidence. We believe in every woman’s potential to build a brighter future for herself and her family. We believe in GRIT. At 43, Esther Awino is a strong and determined woman, epitomizing the term “GRIT.”

Raised by an aunt in a rural area, she was educated up to Primary 7. When Esther was 16 years old, she was sent for by another aunt who lived in a nearby town. Esther was excited to finally go to town and hopefully attend a better school. What she didn’t know was that arrangements were being made for her to get married.

“Like a goat they take to the market for sale, I was taken to marry a strange man who was older than me,” Esther shared. She was tricked into marriage and locked in a house with a man for two weeks. When she was finally let out, she saw that escaping was impossible. She didn’t have the money to take a boat across the lake that stood between her prison and her freedom. “It was very painful for me,” Esther continued, “to stay with a man I was forced to marry.”

Esther and her husband had six daughters and two sons. The family was initially financially stable until her husband’s job changed. There was not enough to feed the family, and Esther knew she had to do something or the family would starve. “I took all my clothes and sold them under a mango tree. I made enough money to buy food and charcoal,” said Esther. But there was no money for school fees. “I didn’t have anyone to stand with me and pay my school fees. That’s why I ended up in a forced marriage,” Esther explained. “I was robbed of the happiness of being a girl. I refused to let my children go through what I went through, so I had to find a way to put my children in school.”

Eventually, Esther moved to Kampala and a friend gave her a gift of $13, which she used to buy baby clothes to sell. Unfortunately, she had no space to exhibit the clothing. “When I asked a shop owner to help me with space, she told me nothing in Kampala is free,” said Esther.

Esther struggled to run her clothes business, but after she joined an SBS training, it really began to grow. “I wouldn’t be where I am without the training I received,” Esther said earnestly. “I didn’t think it was possible to save even $5 a day.” Implementing the lessons of SBS, Esther was able to rent a space to open a boutique which she named after her first daughter, Daphne. On average, Esther now makes $12 in profit daily. Through perseverance and determination, through GRIT, Esther is determined to educate her children up to the university level.

“All my hard work is to see all my children graduate and my daughters make their own choices about the husbands they want to marry,” confided Esther. “My happiness in this marriage is my children. Where my feet did not step, I want my children to step there.”

If you believe in the grit and ability of each woman, please consider making a gift to support SBS today.


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