Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Breaking the Bonds of Poverty

Several of the women assembling purses.
The grant from Changing Futures has been used to buy 6 sewing machines, train 6 ladies how to sew, as well as, to buy material and supplies.  We had a teacher in the community who started training them and then he went missing.  Then we heard from two ladies back in the States that said they wanted to come and help with the sewing project for 3 weeks.  So in May, they came and taught these ladies how to sew beautifully!  They have been sewing large sling bags, small sling bags with 2 zippers, aprons, and coin purses of different shapes and sizes.
On the 14th of June 2012 Ncamsile, Maria, and Jane sold their first 50 bags to Timbali Crafts.  Each of these ladies signed a contract with us for their sewing machines, which states that they will pay R50 per month toward the purchase of their machines.  This money goes back into the account to purchase more machines, material and supplies, as well as upkeep of the machines.  As we were leaving, they came and gave us R50 each for their first payment towards their machines.
On June 18th and 19th, teams from the US that were visiting Swaziland came through and bought many bags from the ladies.  On the 21st we paid the ladies for what they sold.  We keep a percentage to buy additional material and supplies so that we can sustain the program.  We paid each lady individually in front of the group, saying what and how much they sold.  The other ladies applauded each one as it was her turn.  One of the ladies got down on her knees to receive her payment!  They were all so happy for each other!  It was a very special moment!  The next day one of the women asked if she could go to South Africa with the lady that helps us run the sewing project to buy more material with the money she had made.  Another lady asked if they could buy formula for her baby with the money she had made.
Unique designs for small purses and shoulder bags.None of these ladies have a bank account, or make any money on a regular basis.  They live day to day trying to put food on the table for their families.  It is very difficult for them to understand anything about a business or what it means to run one.  Our hope is that if they can make a somewhat steady income with the sewing, that we can teach and empower them to take the business themselves one day and run it as a group or an association.
One of the ladies showed up last week, late in the week and apologized that she had been missing sewing classes all week.  She was covered with bruises, which she said her husband had beaten her because he doesn’t want her being away from home every day sewing.  My heart went out to this precious woman who is already handicapped, as she only has one good eye.  I cried as I prayed with her for protection and peace.  These women put up with untold misery from men just so they can have a roof over their heads.  Most of the time, the men don’t have a steady job either.  So we asked if she thought it would be better if we let her take the machine home and sew there so her husband wouldn’t beat her.  One of the other women in her community said that she could stop and help her if she needed help and she could come to class once a week.  This has turned out to be a good solution for her and her husband was ok with this.
Some of the ladies sewing on the front porch in VuvulaneNow there are two more teams from the US, coming before the end of the month to buy items from the ladies. Also, there is a lady who has said she would buy R2400 worth of bags at the end of the month to send back with someone to sell at their church.  Lastly, we have been invited to put our items at a booth at the Swazi Trade Fair at the end of August.  So, the ladies have been sewing like crazy to stock up items for all of these potential sales.  They are very excited and there is lots of momentum right now!  We are very pleased with their progress in such a short time!
Thanks so much to Changing Futures organization for your kind and generous grant!
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