A note about Dorah, from Made by Mosaic Manager, Jordan:

It’s amazing to see how far Dorah has come since she started at Made by Mosaic as our FIRST employee. I had an instant connection with her and to this day, she is a huge portion of my motivation and inspiration to grow this business. For me, her story is an incredible example of what we’re trying to achieve at Mosaic- providing dignity, love, restoration, and hope.

When I first met Dorah, she was 48 years old and had three children: Lucky, Lerato, and Jankie. Lucky was her only child by birth, and he was 21 years old when I met him in 2011. Dorah raised her son as a single mother. Lucky suffered from severe mental and physical handicaps and required constant care. At the time, most of his days were spent at a special day care centre for the disabled. Dorah volunteered at that center for eleven years just so that she could be closer to her son.

Dorah’s youngest child, Jankie, was given to her by social workers when he was around 3 years old. The social workers had found him abandoned on a garbage heap in the township, as if he had been intentionally discarded. His exact age, along with his birth parents, are unknown. Jankie, like Lucky, has severe mental and physical handicaps, and also spends his days at a daycare center for the disabled.

Dorah’s middle child, Lerato, was adopted from her sister who passed away when Lorato was only 2 years and 3 months old. Lorato is now 17, and when Dorah speaks of Lorato, she calls her “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.

Before she moved into the Mosaic community, Dorah and her children were living in a one-room tin shack, and Dorah had searched for over twenty years for employment without ever finding a permanent job. The family’s only source of income were grants that the government gave 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 informally adopted, because their paperwork is either in progress or their caretakers don’t have the means to register them. Without this registration, these orphans cannot obtain official government documents that are necessary for employment, enrollment at a university, driver’s licenses, passports, etc.

For parents that do receive these grants, it is usually only enough to keep their children in school, which requires paying for transportation, uniforms, and school fees. The remaining funds can hopefully clothe and feed their family, but not without very careful budgeting and a bit of luck. Dorah admits that she never had any money left after these purchases are made at the end of the month.

When I first hired Dorah, she was anxious to learn and become a skilled crafter. During training she came early and left late, and always came in the next day excited to show me what she’d accomplished during the short time that we’d been apart. To this day, she’s always willing to put her work down and help a friend who’s having a hard time with a certain stitch or pattern. Her ability to quickly master a new project far surpasses my own and now I can count on her knitting expertise to help me when I need it!

In the time that I’ve spent with Dorah, I’ve celebrated her 50th birthday with her, seen the birth of her first grandchild (baby Koketso, a girl, born in 2013), and mourned the tragic passing of her beloved son Lucky with her. Also in that time, Dorah took another daughter into foster care, a young girl who has since moved home to her original family. I have promoted Dorah to the position of Assistant Manager, and she is now responsible for all of the women who work in our knitting and crochet product lines. She supervises the quality of each piece and trains new employees as they come in. She is well-loved by all of the Made by Mosaic staff, and by all who know her.

I still vividly remember a conversation that I had with her when she was first starting. I told her that I was very impressed with her work, to which she responded earnestly, “I don’t want to let you down.”

Well, Dorah, I don’t want to let you down, and it is my prayer every day that we can find permanent employment not just for you but for all of those in the Mosaic community who earnestly seek it.