Friday, December 31, 2010

Sewing Machines for Bugiri

Kyamagemule was the first group to receive sewing machines and Karamoja was the second group. Now Bugiri has four machines and the women were eager to express their enthusiasm. Just three weeks ago they received the foot pedal operated machines and in that time they’ve demonstrated how serious they are about being certain the gift is well managed.

They began by arranging for a professional tailor to train them. He volunteers his services and as I observed him with the ladies I could tell that he’s got a teacher’s heart. This tailor, like most other bush village people, has gone a very long time without employment and he seemed excited to share his skills with a community in need. We all love to be fulfilling our purpose.

The women organized themselves into three groups of four to maximize machine tim
e and training time. They meet regularly to learn sewing machine care and sewing skills. I was impressed by the written statement they’d developed about how they will operate together and how they will function within their small community. This is the only group to take such formal steps with the sewing machines to demonstrate to us their dedication to using the machines to better their circumstances.

Practice, practice, practice. The women, and a few men, have been practicing by cutting patterns from dust covered Tororo Cement bags. The company is located about an hour’s car drive from the main road (although they do not have a car) so I expect the bags are found in their dumpsters or at various construction job sites. After cutting them into patterns, the bags are sewn together as if they were real fabric. While they’re skills are still rough, I was exceedingly impressed by how far the women have come in just three weeks time.

The Kitodha Mercy Women’s group, as they have named themselves, began learning additional handcraft skills from other community members and is starting a farm to help supplement their needs. Something about the sewing machines and Henry’s exhortation has spurred this community toward innovation and prosperity mindsets rather than poverty mindsets. All they needed was the small gift of sewing machines and sound teaching to get them started. One of the biggest benefits we recognized in this group was that the sewing machines have united the community across cultures and religions. They are all dedicated to working together.

As with any small business, the Kitodha Women’s Group does have a few needs to help them move beyond sewing paper bags. Thread, scissors that cut the thread clean and that cut fabric without ruining it, fabric for clothing, and various closures (buttons, zippers, etc.). Just a few of these basic staples will get the group started in becoming self supporting. I am always amazed at how simple things can produce such vast change.