Mauritius: Valerie Simirone

Mauritius: Valerie Simirone


Date: November 9, 2016
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Valerie Simirone

I am very satisfied with the training I received in October 2013 with Gender Links. I first learned about the organisation through one of its employees in a supermarket. This day I told the person everything about my life and problems. I was relieved because I needed to pour my heart out. It was the first step to the change in my personal and professional life. First of all, I was not aware of my worth as an individual. I never felt special, important and had a relatively weak personal character. I had the tendency to accept everything men said even if these were not reasonable. Following the training, I became a strong woman and developed self-confidence. I learned what self-worth is all about. The training has been a great and determining experience in my life. I also learned that I was not alone and that my special circumstances were not unique to me. I actually feel that it indeed was very useful to all the women who attended the sessions together with me. I attended all the sessions with enthusiasm.

I was leading a difficult life and was constantly facing troublesome circumstances. It was not easy to fulfil my basic needs and that of my family. I am the mother of two children and separated from my husband. I now have a boyfriend and we live together. To contribute for the household expenses, I worked as a housemaid and also bred some hens. I used the eggs obtained for my family’s own consumption purposes. I never thought of making it a business to alleviate my financial problems. However I was already involved in a small business which involved selling cakes and other foods which I made myself. But it did not work as expected. One reason was that I did not know how to manage a business. Today I am a skilled breeder and I possess twenty laying hens, fifty hens and ten ducks. With their manure I even manufacture compost for sale. I learned how to make full use of my resources and capabilities.

16 Days Activism Campaign_March against Gender Based Violence_ Black River _08122013_GA_Mauritius _2_

I would not have been able to do all of these if Gender Links did not help me realise that I also am a valuable person. It gave me a lot of ideas to solve my problems. Therefore everything I learned at the Gender Links training has been very useful to me; be it the human interaction or the more practical lessons we were taught such as making a business plan. Before the training it was quite difficult for me to speak to people. I now find it important to communicate what I learned about individual worth, esteem and confidence to other people especially women facing various problems. All of these really made a difference to my life. I was selected to present my project in South-Africa. It was not easy for me to become independent; I did not have the money required to start this business. I had to work as a full-time maid and sell some eggs to save enough money in order to start my animal breeding business. I was very cautious not to waste money as I did not receive financial help. With time I took another job, I promote products for a Mauritian enterprise.

After I started my business, people in the vicinity started doing the same. Note that I did not stop working as a housemaid and for the aforementioned Mauritian enterprise. I did not think that they will affect the functioning of my business in a negative way. Actually I help them with their undertakings when they face difficulties. I give them advice based on the knowledge I have. I do not believe in keeping my savoir-faire to myself. Sharing knowledge also helped me develop a new personality by enabling me to be more open to people. Today I also help women of my village to prepare food on large scale for sale when there is a festival. I am an important person to them.

A lot a people thought that I was not capable of doing what I did. I was also victim of consequent humiliation by my life partner. He did not like my independence and progress. But I was determined to improve my circumstances. I met a lot of people from different associations. They are all willing to help when necessary. I wish to further expand my business by acquiring a piece of land, apply for a breeding permit and become financially stable. I believe that to be successful, one has to overlook difficulties.