How it all began: learning to sew
The women’s sewing has been one of the most successful projects and has taken off in many directions, proving very popular among the women involved. It began in early 2015 when Pelagia Makumba Pita, a Zimbabwean lady working with communities in the Gorongosa National Park, was invited by the Zalala Foundation to come to Supinho to teach a group of 18 women to sew things from ‘capulana’ -a traditional cloth widely used by women for clothing and many other purposes. Capulana cloths comes in many different colours and patterns and finding a nice colour and design is a passion of practically every African woman! In just two weeks, the women, many of whom had never before handled a needle, learnt to produce beautifully finished bags, stuffed animals, place mats and napkins.
Goods on display and on sale
After the completion of the training, the women were eager to display their goods with a view to being able to sell them. The first idea was to exhibit their goods in the village for others to see. Many items were sold, but the ladies were keen to find other markets as well. Some items were placed in the shop of Zalala Beach Lodge. Others were taken to a crafts shop in the commercial centre of Maputo. The Zalala Festival also provides another opportunity for selling their goods.
The school uniform project
After the first training, the group has continued to develop new skills, including the making of school uniforms. As well as providing a more secure source of income for the women. Currently, most families have to go to Quelimane town some 45 kms away to buy uniforms. Soon, they will be able to buy them locally and they can not only save on the cost of travel to the town, but the women plan to sell them at a better price, thereby making uniforms more affordable for more families. Since the women began working on the production of school uniforms, the word got out and they were approached by the First Lady of Quelimane who approached the group to produce over 300 uniforms for her annual child sponsorship programme. In order to facilitate the timely production of the uniforms required, the Zalala Foundation has provided the women with another 2 sewing machines, bringing the total to 5.
Moving towards independence
While many women learnt to follow patterns and complete garments, few were able to cut patterns and complete a garment from scratch. They asked the Foundation to bring back their original trainer, Pelagia to further develop these skills. In addition, as the number of women interested keeps rising, we also recruited a locally based trainer to provide long-term monitoring and supervision with a view to achieving full independence for the group.
Certificate and prize-giving ceremony for sewing training graduates
After completing their 3-month training programme, a total of 20 women from Supinho and 10 girls and boys from Idugo were awarded a certificate of merit. Dignitaries invited to attend the graduation ceremony include local leaders, representatives from the District and Provincial administration, the Presidents of the 2 local Associations, the Director and officers of the Foundation. The proceedings were kicked off by music and dances performed by the local dance group Estrela Vermelha (The Red Star). After the handing of certificates to all those who completed the training, prizes were given to the students who showed most dedication and promise. They each received a basic sewing pack with cloth, needles, thread, scissors and a tape measure.
Business Management Training
Following the sewing skills training, the Zalala Foundation organised a 2- day business management training aimed at providing the skills and know-how for group members to start up successful business ventures. As well as supporting women and girls’ independence, local communities will also benefit by gaining access to well made and reasonably priced clothes in the local market!
Exhibiting their goods at the local fair
The full range of goods produced by the group including dresses, skirts, shirts and other items were exhibited at a local fair with the support of transport and logistics provided by the Foundation.