Saturday, January 12, 2013

Life in Africa Tailoring Teaching

Charlie's wife, Esther,
displays the result of her homework.
Sitting on the edge of what will be the veranda, the teacher guides those who arrive early in checking the waist seams on their skirts. Others display their homework proudly in readiness for her gentle critique. The little ones stand by waiting to serve as models for the various garments measured and made by hand.

Once the whole group arrives, 11 women including school-age girls who will return to class soon, the giant orange tarpaulin is spread in the late day shade behind a half-finished building. Each student gets out her work and begins while she waits patiently for the teacher to offer direction. Measuring, cutting, pinning…busily they work. Tailoring, mind you, is not the same as simply learning to sew. These women are learning to make garments that fit a specific customer. My wish is that they also learn to make products using patterns so that they can develop the marketplace as well.

One tiny skirt used in practice caught my eye. The pattern on the fabric reminded me of a 1950s kitchen curtain. Little Sheffar, my daring neighbor toddler and youngest sister to Faridah, sports that skirt just right for her tummy but too long for her legs.

Each time I visit I take a few minutes for a short teaching either on business principles or on biblical principles. Not all these women are Christians nor are all the Christian women actively Christian. I don’t hide that the message is one of Christ-centeredness but I also try to be kind to those with other religious beliefs with the prayer that as they’re introduced to Jesus they will give their lives to him.