Monday, April 16, 2012

Believe in the Beauty of Their Dreams - Help Purchase a Sewing Machine for the Women of the Congo

The women of the Action Kivu sewing workshops are graduating! Excited and ready to begin their own businesses, 60 women in eastern Congo, ranging from teenagers to mothers of many children, will graduate this May.

This is momentous for these women, many who chose to attend the program to avoid prostitution on the streets of crowded Bukavu, one of the more horrific options in a place of few choices available to women to survive and feed their families.  Now, with a glimmer of hope and a better future, each one of them will graduate, trained in sewing and designing skills, and armed with a sewing kit.  But it won’t happen without your help!



Each kit costs $175.00 and includes:

•One pedal powered Singer sewing machine ($150.00, and most useful with the lack of electricity in remote village areas)
•One bolt of fabric to begin business ($15)
•One pair of sewing scissors ($5.00)
•One tape measure, plus oil for the machine ($5.00)

Your donation goes directly to the graduates, who have worked so hard towards self-sustainability and helps them gain immeasurable pride as they provide for their families. No donation is too small!

We saw the results with our own eyes on our trip to eastern Congo this year, when we met Nzigira, age 20, and Tantine, age 18, two of the graduates from last year’s sewing program in Mumosho. Parking our truck on the main village road, we wandered down a dirt path, beneath the green of banana trees and lush foliage that surrounded small homes and thatched huts.  Approaching the women’s workspace, we were confused. A pedal-powered Singer sewing machine sat out in the open, situated in the corner of a maze of wooden beams that we soon realized formed the frame of a future house. The only sound was the occasional whirring of the machine’s needle, the chirping of birds, and the chatter of curious kids who’d followed us, pied-piper style, as we’d wound our way into their world.

Nzigira and Tantine have set up shop in one of the corner "rooms" of the construction site. They run their business there, protected by a roof, but otherwise open to the air, sun, rain, a few chickens and one duck who roam freely through.  Nzigira’s uncle is building this house next to his current thatched, round hut, and has offered the space with a roof over their heads for the women to work. However, when the house is finished, the seamstresses will have to find another location to run their sewing shop.

Nzigira and Tantine decided to team up when they met at the sewing workshop. Both hard workers, they recognized in each a partner, and told us that two are better than one. That adage has proven true; they’ve needed no marketing for their work, as word has spread through the local community about their talent.  Women buy fabric and bring it to the makeshift workspace, where they take measurements, press fabric with coal-heated irons, and pedal power their designs into beautiful blouses and skirts, for wedding parties and daily wear.  They live at home with their parents and family, who do not work, and from their shared small business, in which they charge a mere $4.50 for a complicated blouse, they meet their families’ basic needs.

They are ever grateful for the Action Kivu supporters who helped purchase their sewing kits for graduation, and offered a blessing for those who helped them: "May you live as a lake, being replenished and refilled, never dying."

Donate today, and know that you are making a huge difference in one woman’s life. No amount is too small. 

Want to know more about the women? Read the story, hopes and dreams of Ernata, a graduating student, here.

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

- Eleanor Roosevelt

(Photos by Cate Haight)

2 comments:

Victoria said...

Wow, what an empowering cause! I love that you are supporting this:)

Rebecca Snavely said...

Thank you Victoria! And thanks for reading - I love your blog and the world you create there!