Pili Hussein was 31 when she ran away from her abusive husband and made her way to the Mererani Mines at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro in order to make a living. According to the account of her story to UN Women there she learnt of a mountain higher than Kilimanjaro standing against the women.
“When I arrived Mererani I was told women were not allowed to enter the mines. I didn’t know if the law forbid women or that the men didn’t think women could do the job.”
She took on a phony name Mjomba Hussein(which means Uncle Hussein), disguise herself like a man and worked alongside the men 10 – 12 hours every day.
“I drank Konyagi(local gin) with them and joked with the men which local women they liked. The miners treated me as an equal and even sought my counsel. I was able to convince them to stop harassing the women.”
She said her turn – around began a year later when she found two clusters of Tanzanites stones of 800g and 1000g each.
She acquire more farms, tools and employed more miners to work for her.
Today, she has successfully obtained a mining licence with about 70 employees, 150 acres of land, 100 cows and a tractor.
Pili Hussein has sent about 32 children from her family to school. Her goal is to break the gender barrier and totally eradicate the limitations against women miners in Tanzania.