Deaf and dumb girl on the way to become top business woman


Care International, November, 2014: Rehana is a special case. Deaf and dumb, it is initially a little difficult to imagine how the star trainee will be able to set up a beauty salon. But Rehana has it all worked out.

Rehana is the top student in a class of 30 doing the new 6-month course for beauticians organised by CARE. This is the second round of students taking the six-month course. Of the first round, the teacher says the graduates are earning anywhere from a respectable 5,000 rupees for those who have found employment in beauty salons, to as much as 20,000 to 25,000 rupees a month for the more successful ones who have established their own businesses.

Rehana who oozes as much attitude as she displays skill, seems destined for the top end. Those services are many. To make sure they can offer a comprehensive service – and exhaust all possible revenue streams in their neighbourhoods – the course teaches them everything from hair styling to hair removal, from make up to manicures and pedicures, from basic hair cuts to bridal make-up.

“Rehana wants to set up her own beauty salon, but because of her physical challenges will need to do this in partnership with someone else,” the teacher says. “Possibly one of the girls here”, she adds. Rehana, who had been concentrating on creating an elegant chignon for one of her fellow trainees, pauses. “No”, she interrupts with an impatient sign. And with a further simple gesture dispatches one of the other trainees to fetch her sister. The younger sister, who is next door in the dress-making class, comes and after a rapid exchange sets the record straight: “I will be my sister’s partner.” The one will offer beauty treatments; the other will offer tailoring and embroidery services. And then she adds: “We’re both engaged.”

For the teacher this news is likely to dash their plans. Once the two girls are married, they will have to go to live in their husbands’ homes, probably even in separate villages. And because of the lack of social mobility, those who do start in self employment will do this from their homes, or the homes of their in-laws.

But the other trainees, who are deeply impressed by Rehana’s ability to understand “from looking at you what you’re saying – like a sixth sense” are more fully informed. “The two sisters are engaged to marry two brothers”, they explain. At 20, the star student’s plans for establishing her own business are more fully formed than those of any of her colleagues.

Fact Box

Care International Project

Enhancing development by investing in Human Capital in Punjab and Sindh

Care International and local partner AWAZ foundation are implementing a EUR 2.7 million project in 4 districts of Punjab province and 3 districts of Sindh, Pakistan. (90% funded by EU)

The aim of the project is to increase access of rural women and youth to job opportunities through innovative TVET approaches. They worked with 15 local institutions to identify skills for which there is a demand and then to develop certified courses, including relevant entrepreneurial and soft skills. In total 4600 students will be trained in a total of 8 trades. At least 1,400 will be helped into self-employment opportunities.
The project will also establish 15 career guidance centers in the TVET institutes; train 400 home-based workers in business development through community-based trainings and establish their linkages with opportunities in the market.

Additionally, for women of the rural communities, the project aims to effectively address issues of accessing urban skill developments center and the market through consistent community mobilization activities.

Her elaborate coiffures will surely draw customers from afar – and “she’s just as good at all the other beautician services”, the teacher assures us.

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