My name is Edith Ahortor, and I am a papermaker in the water hyacinth department at the Fair Trade Zone (FTZ) for Global Mamas.
Growing up, my mother was a hairdresser. She didn’t have a traditional shop where people came, but if people needed their hair braided they would call her. My father had passed away, so it was just my mom and I growing up. When I was free, I would sometimes go with her to the customer’s houses to help. After completing High School, I got a job working for a microfinance company, so I moved from Accra to Natriku in the Eastern Region. I really liked working in microfinance. The customers I met every day made me happy. We would chat often and they would always make me laugh. At that time, I had a motorbike that I would use to move around. I would ride the motorbike to work and I really enjoyed it. Usually, guys are the ones that ride motorbikes, but, being a lady, I was celebrated for riding the bike and it made me proud. Even at police checkpoints, the officers would not bother me because they saw it was a lady riding a motorcycle.
I have liked every company that I worked with because I knew that’s where I got my money from. When I work, I try to always work with happiness. Unfortunately during the pandemic, the microfinance let most of us go and I was stuck at home, not working. I heard on the public announcement radio in Natriku that Global Mamas was hiring, so people were submitting their applications for jobs. I went to drop my application and learned more about Global Mamas. They interviewed me that same day. During the interview, I was really scared because I didn’t know what they were doing or the products they made. But now I’m no longer scared, I can do everything! At the interview, I initially said I wanted to work in the sewing department because in high school I learned how to sew and wanted to get more experience. Two months later, I was called back and started working with Global Mamas.
When I began work with Global Mamas, it took some time to adjust to how work is done here. Sewing was not easy and I found out that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, so I requested to be moved to the water hyacinth weaving department. The first product I made was the trivet and it was difficult to do. We used to twist very dry hyacinth at first, and we learned that if you put it in water it was easier. One thing I’ve learned is that in the beginning, things are usually difficult, but in one month or two months, they become easier. So no matter how difficult it is, you can always do it. After I produced the first trivet, I was really excited and I wish I could make some for my room. It was so beautiful. Unfortunately, the weaving department had to close because of the pandemic, so thankfully, Global Mamas moved us all to mask-making so we could continue working and keep our jobs. Later on, Global Mamas needed papermakers so I moved to the papermaking department temporarily.
I enjoy working with the papermaking department. It’s a new department, so we’re always learning things. Recently we had screenprinting training and I really enjoyed it. We got to learn how to fix the mesh on the frame, make the design, and even print on clothing. I don’t even know when my personal growth happened. Before, I had challenges making the products then all of a sudden I am good at making everything. I know that my coaster-making has improved the most. The things I know I could do even if I’m sleeping are the coasters, the trivets, and the twisting of the ropes.
I am glad that I am working with Global Mamas. Because of the work, I am able to takecare of myself and my needs. Thanks to the money I earned, I’ve been able to save and buy a plot of land with the help of my mom. I am fully independent at 24 and I’m very proud of that.
In the future, I want to build my own apartment for me, my mom, and my daughter because renting is wasting our money. At the end of the year, the money you give to the landlord can do something and I also want to start my own screen-printing business with what I learned from Global Mamas. In the beginning, I will start alone until I have enough money and customers to hire more people. Who knows, I could even be taking orders from Global Mamas to screen-print for them, and who knows, maybe I’ll even employ you!