Training for Transformation

Girls Without Future: Sewing Project

Girls Without Future: Sewing Project
L t R: Henriques Anopa, District Superintendent Filipe Massango, North Conference Executive Secretary, Rosa Vicente. Photo Alzira Sebastião.

Women and young women are the target population for supporting income-generating activities because they are the most economically vulnerable groups due to socio-cultural practices that in most cases hinder them from getting education that would allow them access to formal employment. Therefore, these projects help them acquire some skills and/or other means of sustaining themselves and their families in the areas of sewing and fish farming. 

Girls Without Future Sewing Project

It has been well documented that poverty disproportionately affects women and girls due to violence, culture and lack of sustainable economic opportunities, globally, but to a greater extent in sub-Saharan Africa. Concern for the economically underprivileged women and girls of their community prompted the Mozambique North United Methodist Women through their executive secretary, the Rev. Alzira  Isaac, and her United Methodist Women team to start the Girls Without Future sewing project with funds from the United Methodist Women National Office in New York. The Girls Without Future sewing project began with the purchase of 12 sewing machines and materials. Above all, the solution to unemployment of any employable age is to provide skills through training. This fee-free skills training in sewing for livelihood support admitted its first batch of 12 in April 2019, but only seven graduated six months later. Rosa Horacio Vincente finished at the top of her class.

One of the reasons for these six-month empowerment programs in skillful sewing training is to create sustainable livelihoods for self-employment, something that surely makes a difference to many families’ well-being. A number of the trainees plan to start their own sewing workshops. Others would like to have further sewing training of a more professional type to earn more money. Those who cannot do so will seek employment as an assistant with an already established tailor for a small income. You will be amazed to know how far this “small” income can go, enabling women to achieve many goals that they otherwise would find difficult or near impossible to do. The trained women and girls will be able to help family members by sewing needed clothes, including school uniforms. Women will be able to send their children to school regularly and provide educational support and healthcare, something most of us take for granted. More important, their earning power will give them some measure of control over certain decisions at home, in the family.

Working in a team, the trainees gained more than just sewing skills during their training. After spending six months together, experiencing the challenges of learning a new skill, supporting each other, listening to one another’s daily challenges, sympathizing, empathizing and encouraging, they developed relationships with their mates, unintentionally creating a support network for themselves and one another that will last a lifetime.

These women’s and girls’ lives have been transformed, empowered with skills nobody can take from them. This would have been impossible without the economic development grants of United Methodist Women. Such an investment is a sure path to poverty reduction. In as much as the women’s and girls’ immediate success can be attributed to the teacher who taught them sewing skills and guided and encouraged them, as well as to the United Methodist Women leaders of North Mozambique who saw the need for such a program, all these would pale beside the generous grant support of United Methodist Women of the United States, to whom we send our profound gratitude. The grant is a huge contribution to positive social change. This six-month training program may be a simple one but it has given the participants the much-needed foundation to later on undertake the intermediate and advanced sewing techniques as they, individually and collectively, are able to progress from one level of competency to the next. We hope to be able to build on this success. In the meantime, let us glory in the fact that they have learned skills that will provide an income for their families in the future. Watch this space for our follow-up feedback of the post-training impacts. There are plans to recruit students for a second batch of empowerment programs in skillful sewing skills training after the COVID-19 crisis has ended.

 

Posted or updated: 5/18/2020 12:00:00 AM

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United Methodist Women Economic Development Initiative (EDI) creates economic opportunities even in the most vulnerable rural communities. The seed grants support women entrepreneurs to start and run viable small enterprises, agribusinesses and income-generating activities. The opportunities that these small grants create for women, their families and communities are powerful catalysts, especially during COVID-19 when the economic situation is becoming more and more insecure.