Valeriana
Valeriana's Story
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Valeriana

I was born profoundly deaf and my parents decided to send me to a special school in Njombe from the age of 10. It was still really tough though as the teachers wanted us to learn to lip-read, so they didn't use sign language at all. On the whole I had a good childhood, my mother was supportive and I had many friends. We had our own way of communicating, and being children we were happy to play together.

In 2001 I failed my primary exams and so my father took me to learn tailoring. I learnt this for a couple of months, but after this the teacher got me to work in the shop for him. Although there was a mixture of deaf and hearing people, I didn't really enjoy it and left in 2004. I didn't have many friends there and wanted to be at home. When I returned, I helped my mother with the housework but I didn't have a job so I was dependent on my parents. When I was at home, I remembered a friend who was working at Neema Crafts, so I wrote her a letter asking if she could help find me a job. Incredibly the director was looking for a female tailor and with my skills, so I applied and then started work straight away. I was so happy to get here and see my friends, I met people who I had been to school with and it was brilliant.

Working in the tailoring department is fantastic, I am amongst friends and I enjoy making dresses in particular. Since being at Neema, I have become part of the dance troupe and have visited England and performed in front of hundreds of people there. I love being part of this, because it helps Neema and I am amongst people I know and love. Soon I hope to be married and if I need to move to where my husband lives, I know I have the skills to be able to set up my own tailoring business wherever I go.