She was introduced to motherhood when she was not fully prepared for it. This, however, did not deter her from doing her best to give her child a good life. With age, she has come to learn and unlearn a lot of things, and although some of the choices she made along the way were not welcomed by her immediate circle, she made them anyway. Read on to find out how Sarah, 28, turned her lemons into lemonade, found peace in motherhood, and finally, how she celebrates other mothers this month.
While in her third year at university, Sarah had her son and had to leave him with her mother to go back to school. She knew she had to complete her studies if she wanted to give her son a decent life. This so far is one of the best decisions she has made in life.
Also, being a firstborn with a father who was a teacher, she could not afford to not go back to school and complete her studies. Typical of most parents, she had plans to pursue a different career but her parents insisted on teaching, which she did very well in and graduated.
Like most young people graduating from college, she expected to come out to a readily available job in the market, but this was not the case. On the other hand, her son was growing up and she needed to start fending for him.
“My mindset was a little bit different from my peers because I had a son to look after. Again, I felt that my mother had done enough raising my siblings and me. The last thing I wanted was to add to her the ‘burden’ of raising my son on my behalf,” she says in a calm voice.
Her situation, therefore, forced her to start working as a maid in a nightclub. This did not augur well with her parents – to them, some careers were an absolute ‘No’ in their books.
“Starting a career in such an environment was not easy. To make matters worse, the job I was going to do was already profiled enough,” she says between soft laughter.
All in all, she resorted to taking up the job at the nightclub with one aim – to provide for her son who was almost starting school. Although she managed to take home something small each month, the first few years were tough because of her crazy work schedule. She would report to work in the evening and come back home in the morning when her son has already left for school.
This put her relationship with her son on the line. As she narrates, being a mother, you want to be there with your child during their first milestones in life such as walking and saying their first words. She didn’t get the chance to do this. However, much as she wanted to stay at home with her son. she could not because who would provide her son’s school fees and upkeep?
As if this was not enough, she had society on her neck because of taking such a job. The nightclub she worked in was close to the church where they worshipped. In the evening when going to work, she would
meet people going to night vigils and as it was, they did not give her an easy time. Both her parents tried to talk her out of this job but there was no other option.
Five years now and looking back at her decision, she is glad she stayed put with her resolve unshaken. Otherwise, she would not have had the opportunity she has now. Her work often saw her and her colleagues attend various training such as in customer service and product awareness. In one such training, their director mentioned the Diageo Bar Academy and explained how it operated. She got interested.
“If there was an opportunity that I would use to turn my life around, this was it. I felt so interested that I followed my director to know more about the academy,” she says.
However, before she could make any step, COVID-19 hit. Her industry was affected the most, and therefore, they had to take a break for quite a while. As things slowly started getting back to normal, they resumed work and she learnt from her director that the academy was looking for trainers based in the lake region, where she lived.
Her name was among the four names submitted by her director to the academy for the opportunity. This was followed by an interview which, if we are to go by her excitement, went very well.
“For the interview, we were given a deck with various sector topics in our industry. From these topics, one was supposed to select a topic of their interest and make a presentation on it,” she says of her foray into the academy.
Seeing that the country was healing from the adverse effects of the pandemic health and sanitation in her industry piqued her interest. She wanted to know more about health safety in bars and nightclubs and therefore, based her presentation on this
Fortunately, she did so well and was among the two people selected to become trainers in the region. She thereafter quit her job at the nightclub to become a trainer in the academy.
A turn in her life
After a few months at her new job, she finally moved out of her parents’ home to join her husband and start a family of their own. If anything, she was now comfortable because she had some substantial income of her own. As she puts it, it was good enough to enable her to secure a good school for her bright son and send something back home to her parents.
“I felt completely in control of my life since I could help my husband with some of the bills, secure important things such as health insurance for my son, and live in a good neighbourhood,” she says happily.
Although her father took some time to reconcile with her career choice, her mother adjusted quite quickly. Thankfully, he finally came around owing to the growth he had seen in her life with the new opportunity.
“I would also get merchandise such as hoodies, umbrellas, and t-shirts from work, which I sent to him and they made him very happy,” she says.
Her work currently involves traveling to different clubs and bars within the region to facilitate training for the workers. Her specialty is in the health sector, and she trains bar and nightclub workers on hygiene measures on the premises, especially the washrooms.
Compared to her initial work, she now spends a lot of time with her family as she can stay home a few days a week. something that makes her very happy Her family is also growing as she is now expecting her second child. Fortunately, her schedule is friendly enough to accommodate this. She is particularly thankful that her husband can sometimes drive her to work and this gives them the opportunity to spend more time together.
Beyond that, working with the academy has also exposed her to more opportunities since she gets to attend major gigs for work and, in the process network with great people. Furthermore, she and her husband are now proud owners of a wines and spirits business and are looking to open a second one soon.
“The knowledge I got from the academy opened my eyes to new opportunities and was helpful in my entrepreneurship journey,” she says.
And while her journey up to this point was not the easiest, every time she sees improvement in the clubs and bars she has trained in makes her feel immeasurable pride,
As the focus is on mothers this month, she wants to celebrate her fellow mothers who despite the societal judgment still go ahead and make tough decisions for the good of themselves, their children or families, and encourage them that it all gets better with time.
“Finally, I would love to encourage bar attendants, both professionals and rookies, to join the Diageo Bar Academy family by signing up to the website and following their social media pages to get training. education, and keep up with the emerging trends in the industry,” she concludes