For many in the Western world, sewing is a fun hobby, but to a group of women in Uganda it provides the opportunity for a whole new life for themselves and their families. On May 1, 2016, five women from Karamoja enrolled in a sewing course with the Comboni Missionary Sisters.
They are learning the art of sewing garments and hand beading. When the course ends in October 2016, these women will receive their own personal sewing machine and a small kit with some fabric, beads, and thread.
While most of Uganda is green and lush, Karamoja, situated in the northeast corner of Uganda, is plagued by drought. It is one of the harshest places in the country to live. Karamoja is a beautiful, broken place. However, the women and children often bear the brunt of the brokenness. The women look after the house, cook, collect firewood, and take care of the children while the men tend the cattle.
For less than $1,000 Sr. Rosario was able to buy dozens of machines and all the supplies they need. This new sewing program has the potential to open doors for these women.
“The women are very enthusiastic, especially because they see a possible change in their life,” Sr. Rosario Marrone said. “They feel proud because they know they might be able to support their family. And we, convinced as we are that women are the engines of any great change in society, are even more enthusiastic than they are!”
The sewing machines the women use do not require electricity, which isn’t always readily available in parts of Uganda. Instead, a foot pedal sets the machine in motion. And instead of strenuous hours spent working fields that won’t grow, these women can create beautiful garments in less time.
The opportunity is there. As the Karamoja make the change from leather coverings to handmade fabric garments, more and more seamstresses will be needed.
With their newfound sewing skills, the women of Karamoja can create and sell garments and jewelry providing income for their families that can be used to purchase the necessities of life—food, shelter, medicine. By encouraging these women to better their circumstances, we are also encouraging them to have a stronger voice in their communities and to see themselves as change-makers and as daughters of God.