Lydia Josephat, 36, is one among the few people in this world who’ve managed to achieve their dream job.
The jovial woman runs a daycare and learning centre at Msumbiji Street, Mwanza city.
As a wife and mother, Lydia is thankful that she’s managed to pursue her passion at the right time. Born in Kagera Region, Lydia says she worked in various places before finally landing her current occupation.
She graduated from Kampala International University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. After graduating, Lydia managed to land various jobs with good remuneration.
“I have worked in Dar es Salaam at a company called Informedia, I stayed there for a year and later moved to Data Handlers, for two consecutive years,” she says.
She discloses that, for example, in the first company, her employer would pay her Sh1.5 million and the other one was Sh1.2 million net pay per month.
Lydia states that despite all the monetary benefits she received working at those companies; she felt that there was a void that needed to be filled. Her heart had a different desire from what she did.
“Since my early days, I loved hanging with fellow children, even when I was a bit older than them. No matter how dirty they were, playing with them was part of me – I felt complete,” Lydia says.It reached a point people started calling her names. Some people would say the ‘older’ girl had a different mission with small children.
Her passion for hanging with many children is something that she says is naturally within her.
In 2014, Lydia managed to get back to Mwanza, a place where she had studied her secondary education.
She got a job with an NGO called Busega Children Development Assistance, which was responsible for providing care to vulnerable children. The centre was based in Busega district, Simiyu.
“I stayed there for two years 2015/16 working as a matron. If at all there is a job I enjoyed, this is ranked first, despite of the little salary they offered. Pleading with children to keep calm, playing hide and seek, were some of the highlights of working at such a place,” she says.
Her contract with Busega Children Development Assistance expired in December 2016. It is then that she thought of having her own baby care centre.However, she says her plan or objective to establish a baby care was to teach children and provide them with required care which most families ignore providing.
Lydia is a director at Samara Day Care and Reading Centre under Community and Social Economic Development, CSED, based in Msumbiji Street, Mwanza city.
She started this project late December 2016, some few days after winding up her contract with Busega Children Development Assistance as a matron.
“I started with two kids and I operated in my own house. It seemed dramatic at the beginning but I thank God it picked up within a short period of time,” she says.
Her aim is to provide education to all street children, even though her daycare caters for regular children with parents and legal guardians.
“In good faith, there were some parents who read my plan on what I was doing and decided to help me get a spacious place for the purpose of accommodating many kids,” she explains.
The routine is; parents take their children to the daycare in the morning, especially those who have no maids and go for them later at 4pm.
Lydia however says apart from providing hospitality to the children, they as well offer them religious studies.
“I have few teachers here, children who are now five, are taught on how to write and read and also religious studies,” she informs.
Reaction from society
Lydia reveals that most of her friends started avoiding her after realising that she had quit her good and well-paying job.
“Some claimed that I was bewitched while a big percentage acknowledged that I had the passion of what I wanted to do,” she says.Among the few friends who understood Lydia, was her husband. He always supported her since she resigned from working under someone.
Lydia says payment at the daycare is done through negotiations because her five teachers report at school on shifts.“Some are paid Sh300,000 while others get Sh200,000 a month,” she reveals.Lydia states that the little she gets from the guardians and parents at her baby care, caters for basic needs like food.
“Also, I have some friends who are successful in life and can at times give me a hand of support when I’m down, so as to meet my target,” she says.One child pays Sh20,000 per month. The money is used to purchase food and other basic needs.
Lydia says everything on earth has its challenge; the secret behind staying consistent is how to tackle the challenge.
“There are times some children stay at home even up to a week while their colleagues are in the centre learning, when they report back, we are forced to restart again,” says Lydia.
She unveils that sometimes, the little amount that is charged either for porridge or lunch, is not paid on time and hence she is forced to dig into her pocket to cater for the children’s meals.
In five years’ time, Lydia plans on owning two baby care centres in the city. One will be there for children from vulnerable families while the other will concentrate on children willing to join.
She says she has made progress from when she first started at her home back in the days. She has managed to have her own premise where the learning exercises are being conducted.
“By the grace of God, I will strive to ensure that my institution is ranked internationally on assisting all children with special needs,” she explains.
She gives advice to all young people with different passions and ambitions that they all can start living their dream once they decide to take the leap forward.
“I am living the exact life I planned when I was still young. My life has taken some turns and changes that I did not anticipate and it has brought me different things. I’m happy to be where I longed for most,” she concludes.