For more than a decade, Marion Taylor has shared her innate passion for making a difference through her involvement with BeadforLife. She was one of the first volunteers and has supported our Girl’s Education Program. As we continue developing Street Business School, Marion is right there with us!
Marion was greatly impacted by her Peace Corps work in Senegal in the early 1980’s. This has carried over to her volunteer work with the Colorado African Organization in Denver, and with women’s co-ops in Rwanda and Tanzania last fall. She’s worked for more than 35 years in the field of Social Work with non-profit organizations and foundations focused on families, women and children. She explained that her true passion is working with women, which clearly indicates why the Street Business School program strikes a chord with her, so much so, that in November, she was compelled to visit Street Business School on the ground in Uganda.
While in Kampala, Marion participated in a Street Business School training session and recruitment efforts in three different slums, visited several SBS graduates’ businesses, revisited Friendship Village after 9 years and reunited with Maria, whose education she has sponsored since 2006.
After seeing firsthand how effective the SBS grassroots model is, she strongly believes that this strategy will make a difference, woman-by-woman, training-by-training, each slum, city, and country at a time. “To get into the depth of a community is what makes this program so different,” Marion says. “I just love the grassroots approach as it’s deliberate and purposeful, empowering people with skills so they can choose the business they want to have to lift their families up,” she adds. “Street Business School understands they are dealing with peoples’ lives and is not trying to put a Band-Aid on the issue of poverty, but dive in woman-to-woman, human-to-human and slum-by-slum. “The Street Business School model will make a difference and this type of work is more important now than ever,” Marion says.
Marion saw firsthand how this training impacted SBS business owners today. One woman she visited, Christine, had gone through the training one year ago. “We visited Christine’s little room which was clean and tidy. We washed our hands to help her cut fruit (mango, jackfruit, watermelon, orange), placing small pieces in little Tupperware containers with a carrot slice and toothpick atop…it was as beautifully arranged as you’d find in a nice restaurant here in the US,” she says. Christine would eventually carry these fruit arrangements on her head to sell in her community. She also owns three pigs and uses the rinds and leftover fruit peels to feed them. With her savings, she’s purchased a plot of land to build a home and plant fruit trees, so she can grow her own fruit vs. purchasing it at the market. She also runs businesses doing laundry and making tea and porridge to sell at night. Like most of these hard-working women, she has no husband and is raising her two kids alone, who do attend school. Christine is one of the 46,000 lives impacted by BeadforLife and Street Business School business training programs.
We could not be more grateful for Marion’s involvement and will continue to share parts and pieces of her experience, as she has generously shared many stories from our journey together.