Interview by batik designer Nick Ruffalo. Cape Coast Ghana, April 2020.
“My name is Martha. I have been working as a batiker for Global Mamas for 9 years. When I first got into home-sciences, I was a seamstress. A lady came in wanting me to sew something for her; I thought her fabric was amazing. She told me she was a batiker, and she made it herself. I asked her if she could teach me. After a while I began batiking for my own work.
After several years, a friend of mine who used to order fabric from me introduced me to Global Mamas. She sent someone from Global Mamas to come visit my shop, and they asked me if I wanted more work. I thought it was maybe a personal order, but then she asked me to come back to her office. I was confused, but I went. When I got there, they took me into an interview, and within a week they called me back to hire me. Now I have 3 employees, and we are always working on an order.”
“My mother was a trader, she sold everything. My mother supported us when we were kids, but we also supported ourselves. After school my sister and I would work sorting and smoking fish. When the boats would bring the fish, we would help carry them and take some fish as payment. When I was fifteen my mother passed away. My sister and I kept working, but since I was older I was looking after her. At that time there was a fish called Ewura Fua, it helped us a whole lot. The fish brought in a lot of money. (It is now extinct.)
My father was a salt-maker, he owned salt flats. My father didn’t take care of us, he had another family. So, I put myself through vocational school. There was a time when I had to drop out due to money. The school accidentally called my father, thinking he supported me, and begged him to allow me to continue because I was good. Then he came in to help, but he said if I did home-science he wouldn’t sponsor me. I went into it anyway.”
“Now I have been helping my brother-in-law support my late sister’s 5 children. The twins, Penyin and Kakra, are both in their national service. Lord has completed school and is now working as a contractor. Donald is not working at the moment but wants to become a pastor, and Kofi has completed two years of school but wants to work and save some money before returning. My nieces and nephews would describe me as their mother. They are concerned for me. They care about me and my health. If I am sick, they look after me. I am very proud that I have been able to take care of them. For their future, I hope they all have their own work and are able to live comfortably.
I am proud of myself for joining Global Mamas; it has helped me a lot. I am able to live comfortably. I have become a successful Batiker, and I am proud that I’ve been able to train many others.”