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Sido, Congo


Sido makes ponchos

I am Sido and am from Congo. I have five kids. Four are here with me—three girls and one son. All of them are studying at university in Australia. I’ve been here eight years.

In my home country I had my own businesses. I’m a fashion designer, so I had a clothes design business. I also traded semi-precious stones, gold, petrol, and food. Then, when I was a refugee in Zambia, I had to start life again. I was a tailor for a while, but because I had eye problems, I gave that up and opened a restaurant. It was very successful.

I came to Australia because there was ethnic cleansing in Congo. People wanted to kill me. I had to leave my home city; I escaped with nothing and resettled in Zambia. Eventually, I was able to come to Australia.

In Australia, I started again, with nothing. I couldn’t sew anymore, because I had a retinal detachment. I’ve had eight operations in Australia.

I studied Cert III for hospitality, but the only job I could get was as a cleaner in a restaurant. Then I studied Cert III in Leadership, and after that I did a small business course with Stepping Stones. A Stepping Stones mentor helped me start my own home cleaning business. I start again. I try! I am what you call “persistent.”

My mentor with Stepping Stones introduced me to SisterWorks. The cleaning business is difficult because of the pain in my eyes, so I’m now collecting second-hand clothes, the nice ones, and then sell them at markets, through SisterWorks.

The volunteers there give me ideas on how to sell, and how to get more customers. They also have swapping events, where I come with my clothes; we buy and swap. The second hand clothes I pick out I either send it to poor children in Zambia or sell it at markets in Australia. All the profit from the clothes I sell here pay for the cost of sending clothes to the children. My business is a charity to help them.

I want to have my own shop where people can buy my second-hand clothing. I really want money to sell second-hand clothes back in Zambia; almost no one is doing that there. I am not tired, I can continue to work. When I have pain—I just continue.

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