Just pretend that we’re not here, said the two American Muzungus (white people). As the women of the Mumosho Sewing Workshop huddled around the two instructors, we hovered over them with cameras, trying to find the right light in the small, dark room, lit only by two windows. The workshop was at capacity with peddle-powered Singer sewing machines, tables for ironing with a heavy iron filled with hot coals, and over 25 women, a couple who carry quiet, wide-eyed babies.
One woman, Ernata, had a hard time looking away from the camera, her smile wide and friendly and frequent. A bright red-orange scarf added color to her simple white tee-shirt, and like every other woman in the workshop, a measuring tape hung from her neck. Amani, who started this sewing program in his home village of Mumosho in 2009, explained the importance of the women sharing their stories with us, so that people in the U.S. and around the world could connect to them, individually, and feel a sense of sharing life and building this community through their support of the sewing workshop.
Ernata volunteered to be the first to talk with us, meeting us behind the building where ABFEK rents the room for the center. Sitting on a simple wooden stool, ignoring the crows of a rooster and the questioning looks and giggles of a few neighborhood kids, she eyed the camera with confidence, and looked directly at us as she answered the questions Amani translated for her.
Read Ernata's story at Action Kivu.