Our Seamstress Trainees
We are pleased to introduce a few of the young women that are currently enrolled in our first 2019 cohort Sewing Our Futures vocational training program in sewing, tailoring and fashion design
Alelo Esther Mercy
My name is Alelo Esther Mercy. I learnt about the Sewing our Futures Project from my sister Doreen (who is a former graduate). I was in the village (Abim district) when I received a phone call from my mother and sister. They told me about the project and advised me to join instead of being idle in the village. At first, I was scared of coming to Kampala and I was wondering how things would turn out.
When I got to Kampala, my sister took me to Girl Up Initiative Uganda where I met Coach Marion who told more about the project. My first day was quite hard because I knew no one and I was very shy. With time, I got my first friend, Barbra. Having a friend made me feel comfortable and more at home. I started being free with the other Girl Up coaches and that helped me a lot in my pursuit of learning how to tailor. If a day passed without me turning up, the coaches would look for me and that gave me morale to continue. The coaches started teaching me and they were very supportive.
Thanks to the project, I learnt how to operate a sewing machine, how to make straight lines without and with a ruler, and how to cut different cloth fabrics. I later progressed to the tailoring part of the training, where I started with tops and then learnt how to make skirts and dresses.
As I speak, I am learning how to make different types of bags. Learning is gradual process and I believe by the end of the course, I will be a super seamstress.
Learning tailoring has been a huge positive change in my life because it has helped me to become what I want in the future. I want to become a coach (one who teaches others to tailor) so that when I go back to Abim, which is my home district, I can also extend the skill to all the other girls who do not have an opportunity of acquiring a skill. Many girls in my village are unemployed and on top of that, they lack skills, therefore, I believe teaching them sewing and tailoring will make a big impact.
My new tailoring skills will also help me become economically empowered so that I can start up a small business. I will sell some items like purses, bags, dresses and skirts, which will earn me money to sustain me.
Thanks to Girl Up, I have also learnt skills of knowing and living with others, which has taught me how to make friends. When I joined the project, I didn’t know anyone and was very shy, but along the way, I was able to make friends and I can say that now I am a confident girl. Starting a conversation with someone was really hard for me before, but now I am able to pick up conversations with anyone with confidence.
My name is Nalikka Hilda. I am 17 years old and I come from Luweero district.
Before joining the project, I was always at home and was not doing anything constructive. Being a primary seven drop out, finding something to do or keep me engaged was really hard. All I did was help out my mother with the house chores and take care of the home.
I learned about the Sewing Our Futures project from my mother’s friend who knows Coach Monica (Executive Director at Girl Up Initiative Uganda). She had come to pay a visit and that is when she told my mother about the project. My mother was convinced by what her friend had explained to her and believed that this would be of great help to me since I was not going to school.
My mother got in touch with the Girl Up coaches and when everything was confirmed, she planned for me to relocate to Kampala.
Thanks to the project, I have acquired a tailoring skill. I had no knowledge in tailoring before, but now I do. When I joined, I was only aware of the basics, that is to say using a needle and thread to stitch my cloths. I knew nothing about how sewing machines were operated and I was scared of using the machine. It kept me wondering how I would become a good seamstress. The coaches started by teaching us how to operate the machine and gave us all an opportunity to try it out. It was difficult for me at first, but the coaches kept encouraging us to keep trying.
I gradually started learning how to operate a machine and it actually turned out to be much easier than I thought earlier. The coaches later introduced us to cutting where we were taught how to cut out cloth meant to make different designs. They also gave us a chance to make different products and as I speak, I can now make different products such as bags, skirts and tops.
I have also learnt skills of knowing and living with others from the other trainings that we have had with Coach Joan. My communication skills have greatly improved. Before, I was shy especially with the coaches and I was always silent when I was around them. To my surprise, the coaches were actually very friendly and this made it easy for me to express myself. Now, I am no longer that shy girl and I can freely associate with my fellow students and also with the coaches. I also help explain somethings to my fellow students when they have not understood.
I love the fact that I can now sew because it is in line with what I want to become in future. I have always wanted to become a fashion designer and with this skill, I am more than hopeful that I will achieve my dream.
I am Merorine Ainamani. I learnt about the Sewing Our Futures project through my sister. I was in the village (Ntungamo district) when I received a call from my sister who told me that Girl Up Initiative Uganda gives out-of-school girls and women a skill in tailoring. Since I stopped in senior six and could not go further with my education, she thought this would be good for me. My sister was in touch with Coach Marion at Girl Up and when my acceptance in the project was confirmed, she advised me to travel to Kampala, which I did and here I am benefiting from the project.
Before I joined the project, I was scared. Just like any other person in a new place with new people, I was scared about how everything would go. When I finally got to Girl Up, the coaches were really nice and this made me feel at home. At least I was not as scared as I was before. I slowly started getting used to the new environment, my coaches and my fellow students. I was a very shy person before and we had some trainings with Coach Joan on how to become more confident and assertive, and that really helped me. I can now freely express myself and interact with both my fellow students and my coaches, compared to how I was before.
I have also learnt skills of knowing and living with others, especially I have learnt how to make friends. When I came to Kampala, I knew no one. But with time, I made friends and as I speak I interact with each and every one. I love to help out my friends when they have not understood something clearly.
Thanks to the project, I have acquired tailoring skills. Previously, I had no knowledge in tailoring, but I am more knowledgeable now. In the beginning, things were really hard for me. I hardly knew how to operate a machine and kept wondering if I would ever learn. At one time, we were given a chance to operate the sewing machine and I completely failed. I nearly gave up, but the coaches kept encouraging me and told me I should take it one step at a time.
I slowly started to learn how to operate a machine and it actually turned out to be easier than I expected. I learnt how to cut cloth fabric to be used in the making of different items like bags, purses and skirts. The coaches encouraged us to try making some products.
My first product was a skirt and I felt really happy because I had made something so beautiful, yet I never imagined I would ever be able to. The skirt I made became my motivation to continue making clothes better than before. I kept trying different skirt types, for example a round skirt, the “A” shaped skirt and so many others. I am now good at making skirts and am now learning how to make dresses. I believe by the end of the training I will be a very good seamstress.
Acquiring a skill has really restored my hope. I feel happy knowing that I now have a skill and it is in line with my dream of becoming a professional seamstress and a coach (one who teaches others to tailor). I actually got the inspiration of becoming a coach from the coaches at Mazuri. The coaches have been very supportive throughout the project, I too want to do the same for other young girls and women back in my village.
I believe that this new skill will improve my life and I will be able to survive on my own without economically depending on my mother or sister and open up my own business in the near future!