« 100 Years – 100 Lives » | TANZANIA - “The training in tailoring made it possible for me to leave drug addiction for good”

Saleh Awadhi managed to leave the drug rehabilitation house and open his own tailoring business after attending an ILO training.

Reportage | Tanzania | 3 septembre 2019
ZANZIBAR CITY - The Detroit Sober House is a one of the nine rehabilitation centres set up in the capital city of Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania. It was established in 2008 by two Tanzanian youths together with two American Volunteers with the aim of rehabilitating local youth who are addicted to drugs.

Everybody at the Sober House including staff members has once been a drug addict.

“There are several steps in the process of rehabilitation. All the steps are challenging and patients tend to run away in between, but their motto is ‘Keep coming back,” explains Kassim Hamis, the house manager.

Need for job training

He insists that the most challenging stage of rehabilitation is when a patient moves out of the house. They definitely need a job. Otherwise, they may fall into the old addiction again.

“For a long time we did not have much to offer in this area, until we participated in the ILO’s Start Your Own Business training programme,” he said.

Saleh Awadhi is a 35-year-old man has stayed at the Sober House for a little more than a year. He had been a drug user for more than ten years.

Awadhi was one of those who took part to the ILO training under the Kazi Nje Nje programme with Zanzibar trainer Mwinyi. Since then, it is fair to say that Awadhi’s life has taken a much more positive turn.

“I had learned tailoring from my mother when I was young, and I used to
tailor until a few years ago when I fell into drugs. When the trainers told us to think of a business idea, I thought of what I was capable of, I thought of my mother’s sewing machine at home, and immediately decided that I would give it a try once more,” he recalled.

He asked for permission to bring his sewing machine to the Sober House and the manager allowed him to do so.

A new approach to life

“Now I have my own tailoring business. Thanks to the training, I learned that it pays to create unique products. I also understood about the importance of looking for an adequate and reliable market for my products. I have managed to get a lot of connections and business networks,” he proudly said.

Awadhi already took part in several fashion shows including the Zanzibar Fashion Week and the Zanzibar International Film Festival. He is also helping other people staying at the Sober House to create their own business.

Now he takes a different approach to life: “People used to see me as unworthy and incompetent, but now they realize I have changed for the best, I am doing something productive. It is like I have come back from death. I am happy that I can now take care of my son,” he insisted.

Awadhi is now ready to face new challenges. He has an old sewing machine and would like to buy a new one as it would be more convenient for him to create new designs. He also would like to find another place to run his business more easily. He even dreams of becoming a real fashion designer beyond Zanzibar. The dark days of drug addiction are definitely over.

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