Dorah’s Story

As told by Jordan Ridge, Made by Mosaic Founder and Manager

Dorah is a single mother to three children and one grandchild. Her oldest son was Lucky, who passed away at the age of 25. Her two adopted children are Lerato and Jankie, and Lerato has a daughter, Dorah’s grandaughter, named Koketso.

Lucky, Dorah’s only biological child, passed away in 2014 after a short illness. Lucky was severely mentally and physically handicapped, and required Dorah’s constant attention and care. Lucky attended a school for disabled children, and Dorah spent eleven years volunteering at that school so that she could be closer to her son. The loss of Lucky was a tragedy felt by the entire Mosaic community.

Before moving to Mosaic, Dorah and her family were living in a one-room tin shack, and though she kept herself busy by volunteering, Dorah was perpetually unemployed and survived only on the provision of government grants.

Dorah’s only daughter, Lerato (which means “love” in Setswana), was adopted from her sister who passed away when Lerato was only 2 years and 3 months old. Lerato is now nearly an adult, and Dorah refers to her as “her hope for the future.” Lerato wants to be a social worker when she grows up because social workers have made a big difference in her life, and she wants to help others.

Dorah’s youngest child, Jankie, was given to her by social workers when he was around 3 years old. Social workers found him abandoned in the township with no one to claim him. His exact age, along with his birth parents, are unknown. Jankie, like Lucky, has severe mental and physical handicaps, and Jankie spends his days at a day care centre for disabled children.

Dorah’s only source of income before moving into the Mosaic community were grants that the government gives to foster parents of adopted children and caretakers of the disabled. These grants are very difficult to apply for, and it can be years before the paperwork is completed and a child is officially “adopted.” In fact, there are millions of children in South Africa who are only informally adopted, because their paperwork is either in progress or their caretakers don’t have the means to register them. Without this registration, these people cannot obtain official government documents that are necessary for employment, matriculation in university, driver’s licenses, passports, and more.

For parents that receive these grants, it is usually only enough to keep their children in school, which requires paying for transportation, uniforms, and school fees. The leftover money can hopefully clothe and feed the family, but not without very careful budgeting and a bit of luck. Dorah admits that she never had money leftover at the end of each month after her family’s most basic needs were met.

At the end of 2010, Dorah and her family moved into the fourth Mosaic home, and in October 2011, Dorah became Made by Mosaic’s very first employee. Dorah was anxious to learn and become a skilled crafter. During training, she came early and left late, and would always come in the next day excited to show me what she’d accomplished during the short time that we’d been apart. Her willingness to help her friends learn and her meticulous work caught my attention immediately. I realized that before long, Dorah would be the one teaching me how to make new products!

Made by Mosaic has grown considerably during those first few days, but I’ll never forget working with Dorah during that time. Now, in 2015, Dorah has been promoted several times since she began working and is now one of my Assistant Managers. Dorah now oversees many of the human resources responsibilities for the Made by Mosaic staff, and is a talented mediator whenever we need a conflict resolved. She is well respected by the entire Mosaic community, and she is almost always referred to as “Ous Ouma,” which means “Miss Grandma.” The translation is sloppy, but in the Tswana culture, it’s a nickname that she’s come by earnestly, as it translates to two titles of authority- a double-dose of respect!

Life in the Mosaic community means that Dorah can sustainably and independently provide for her family in a healthy environment. She has long-term employment through Made by Mosaic, and she is surrounded by people who will support her and help her succeed. Dorah receives regular life skills training through her employment with Made by Mosaic and gets spiritual support from our pastoral care worker and through a variety of activities within her community. Thanks to Mosaic, Dorah’s life as well as the lives of her children AND grandchildren have been forever changed!