Ekwendeni Hospital HIV/AIDS Programme (EHAP) in partnership with People against Poverty (PaP) has implementing a vocational tailoring training which started last year in December 2020. This report therefore provides an overview of the progress of the tailoring training within its first 3 months.
Background and rationale
Since AIDS stands out to be the major factor for orphan hood in Malawi and Ekwendeni in particular, the number of OVC increases every day. The rise in the number of OVCs is emerging at a time when the capacity of families to respond to the crisis is increasingly being compromised by the breakdown and or weakening of the social system that traditionally offered social protection to these children. These OVC need a variety of support in order for them to grow and become self reliant in future. The diverse of needs includes education, food, shelter, clothing and protection from violence. Due to the problems the orphans and vulnerable children face, they are denied the opportunity to complete their primary, secondary and college education. They are even denied opportunity for vocational training.
In response to these challenges faced by OVC, EHAP with support from PaP introduced vocational tailoring training for vulnerable youth in order to give them necessary skills which will help them engage in sewing business and be empowered to be able to meet their life pressing needs. This is very prestigious project for us for the empowerment of vulnerable youth.
Identification of tailoring training trainees
Two vulnerable youth a girl and a boy were identified for the training. Both youth are from very poor families. The following are their names and background:
Figure 1: Richard Nyangulu, 21 years old. Richard left school while in primary standard 8 because of poverty. He has father and no mother but he is very poor and could not manage to support Richard to continue with school. Richard was just staying home and he has always wanted to learn tailoring so that he could have something to do to help himself. But there was no chance for him to learn that. When he was approached by the programme staff, he was very happy and eager to learn because it was his choice to learn tailoring skills. Richard said he could not go back to primary school at moment because he is over age to be at primary school and he said he only wanted to learn tailoring skills because it does not require high qualification.
Figure 2: Vera Hara, 23years and hails from Chidulika village in Ekwendeni. She has mother but no father. The mother is very poor however tried to help Vera to reach secondary school with help from a relative who at moment passed away. Vera did not finish her secondary school because of lack of school fees. She only started form four and stopped school because of fees problem. Vera was just staying at home lacking something to do. When she heard that she has been chosen to do tailoring training, she was over the moon because she was already looking for such training but had no idea about where to do it and where to get fees to pay for the course. When the day to start learning came she was the first to come very early in the morning showing that she really wanted the training.
The sewing training
Before the training started the project first of all purchased 2 manual sewing machines, 200 metres of cloth and other accessories such as sewing lines, 2 bottles of machine oils, 2 pair of scissors and 2 tapes.
The sewing training started in December 2020 and stopped for Christmas holiday and then resumed in January 2021. The first weeks of training was mainly to help the trainers to know all aspects of the sewing machines and make legs get used on how to move machines to sew since they are manual. The trainees had never touched machines so it was new to them. After this, they started learning how to cut a cloth firstly by using the papers then later using cloth.
After they got used to machines and measuring and cutting of cloth, they started sewing masks, then they started learning to sew Jeam dresses and skirts. At moment they are continuing sewing masks so that are sold for money to buy other cloth. All in all the training is progressing very well.
Figure 3: The trainees showing the skirt and Jeam dress they have sewn
The trainees are commuting from their homes for the training. The training starts at 7:30 am up to 4:00 pm. Due to long distance from their homes, the trainees are given lunch every day from Monday to Friday as they cannot mange to go back to their homes for lunch and come back for training. We bought food and they cook themselves at lunch.
Figure 4: Instructor talking to the trainee. Hanged up on the rope are skirts, Jeam dresses and masks which have just been completed. Down on the carton are finished masks.
Since beginning the trainees have sewn close to 1,000 masks, 19 Jeam dresses and 10 skirts on their own. It is observed that the trainees have really loved the training and it was really their choice. They are working hard and their performance is encouraging.
Trainees dream about the sewing training.
Since the trainees have loved the sewing they are dreaming big about it. Here is what they have said:
Figure 5: “ I am so happy that I am learning how sew different designs of clothes and when I complete this course I plan to open up tailoring shop where I will sewing different things and sell to people. I hope things will be fine in my village because there are no tailors in my village and people will be coming to me. Many people in my village like machine made clothing so it will be easy to for me to have market,” said Vera while
showing the Jeam dress which she just finished sewing. “Many God blessings should go to those who have made me have this chance of tailoring training and this chance should not end on me but to my fellow children who also suffer like me.”
Figure 6: “I am delighted that I have this opportunity to learn tailoring.” “I have not gone far with school and the only training which I felt could fit me is tailoring.” “I had been looking for this opportunity of tailoring training but I could not have chance because of poverty. “ Now that I have this opportunity I plan to work hard so that I learn more designs and patterns and I plan to have a place where I will be doing my sewing. “I am proud because I have already started sewing skirts and Jeam dresses which people can buy,” said Richard while displaying the skirt which he just finished sewing. “God bless all who gave a hand for me to have this opportunity”
Masks distribution to vulnerable groups
We have distributed some of the masks to vulnerable children and adults some of the children who have benefited are those that are on sponsorship. 150 masks have been distributed.
Plan for the Masks, Jeam dresses and skirts
· The Masks which have been made will continue to be distributed freely to vulnerable groups such orphans and adults who cannot afford to buy masks. The other masks will be sold so that we find some money to buy cloth which they will continue using when learning different designs and patterns
· The skirts and Jeam dresses will also be sold for money just as will do with masks.
· Inadequate sewing materials such as cloth, sewing lines, elastics and zip. Since the sewing of masks is in progress while at the same time they are also learning other designs, we have observed that the listed materials are needed so frequently.
· The second wave of COVID-19 has affected all of us and is continuing to jeopardize the already poor livelihood of the vulnerable groups. As a result many people are struggling to find food. However this has not stopped us from carrying out sewing training.
· High prices of commodities such as food, fuel and sewing materials due to inflation which is now calculated at 7.1%.
On behalf of the trainees, Ekwendeni Hospital HIV/AIDS Programme (EHAP) is delightful and for economically disadvantaged youth. The tailoring training is progressing very well. EHAP is also grateful to PaP for the continued partnership and support in many ways. God bless you all.