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How Impact Hiring Is Unlocking Dreams In Zambia

How Impact Hiring Is Unlocking Dreams In Zambia

How Impact Hiring Is Unlocking Dreams In Zambia


Interview with a New Seamstress

“I’m so grateful for all that is happening to me right now because of this opportunity,” Frienda exclaimed, with her face full of joy and hope for the future. “I’ve learned a lot,” she added. “Before I started here, I was not doing anything.”

The young mother of two graduated from the trainee program at our Sew Powerful Sewing Co-op in Ngombe Compound, Lusaka, Zambia, to becoming a fully paid seamstress. “Now I’m able to provide for my children and my parents,” she announced proudly.

Frienda is now one of the JR seamstresses on our staff and has learned to make reusable feminine hygiene products and school uniforms, two of the purposeful products made as part of the co-op program.

Life for young adults such as Frienda can be challenging in Zambia, where the poverty rate is one of the highest in the world. According to statistics from the World Bank, "more than 58% (2015) of Zambia's 16.6 million people earn less than the international poverty line of $1.90 per day (compared to 41% across Sub-Saharan Africa) and three-quarters of the poor live in rural areas.” (from https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/zambia/overview#1,2015).

Frienda is also completing her High School education at night while she is learning English and sewing. She now earns a living wage for her work. View her encouraging story here:

Pursuing Dreams

Frienda is pursuing her dream of becoming a clothing designer.

“I want to teach other people to sew the way that I have been taught to sew. I want to make clothes for the community, and even for the children,”

A light breeze rustles the stack of purposeful products Frienda has been stitching competently on her new Juki industrial sewing machine. Unlike the past when she was “not doing anything,” today, Frienda is committed to finishing her education, honing her sewing and designing skills, and eventually making a better life for herself, her family, and others, as well.

Jobs + Education

Frienda’s testimony is not unusual to those who are familiar with the Sew Powerful program model. Research demonstrates that an education + job approach does well, particularly in developing countries.

“Over the long term, the most successful programs supported individuals who were subject to the work requirements in efforts to improve their education or build their skills, rather than simply requiring them to work or find a job,” Pavetti (2016) claimed. (from https://www.cbpp.org/research/poverty-and-inequality/work-requirements-dont-cut-poverty-evidence-shows#finding4)

Funding Dreams and Aspirations

The Sew Powerful sewing co-op is housed in a safe and beautiful new building and home to approximately 50 seamstresses and trainees. The building was financed entirely through the gifts of worldwide donors who brought the two-story building from drawing to reality between 2019 and 2020. Most importantly, it was the dream of the local Ngombe women to sew for their community and for their livelihood. It was also constructed by an all-local team providing local construction workers with a good job.

We fund the aspirations of the local women and empower them to achieve their dreams while positively impacting the local economy. Scaling up the production of high-quality products that serve the local community in addressing urgent needs is very important to us. We want a positive local economic impact from our work.

The Sew Powerful Funding Philosophy

Our goal in Ngombe is to work with the local community respectfully and collaboratively to achieve a local impact that can truly transform their schools, neighborhood—and one day, maybe even all of Zambia.

“We want the moms in the program to make a personal income that lifts them from poverty based on their hard work. We call what we’ve created a ‘sewing cooperative’ because they share a location, machines, leadership, and a mission.”

Jason Miles, CEO of Sew Powerful

Our mission involves creating purposeful products—such as reusable feminine hygiene products, soap, and farm-fresh food--that can lift others out of poverty by keeping girls in school and helping women learn life skills. Life skills, such as sewing and soap-making, can be taught to others. These skills and the purposeful products they learn to create can benefit everyone and positively impact the entire community.

According to Brookings Institute,

“For most workers in the developing world, a secure job remains only an aspiration,”

(https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-future-of-work-in-the-developing-world/).

Sew Powerful offers women in desperate poverty just that—a secure job with skills and a link to the future. It includes,

  • A safe place to work
  • Traditional day-time work hours
  • Benefits, including vacation and sick time and even an annual bonus

"You can't take away what they learn here" is a common phrase you’ll hear Esther Mkandawire, the Sew Powerful Director of Operations in Zambia, say confidently. Whatever skills (sewing, soap-making, farming, and more) the women learn when they join the program, they will retain for life--for a better life than they have ever known.

How Donors Can Support Impact Hiring

We’ve come to realize the strength and value of creating donor involvement methods that give people from around the world a meaningful way to support these goals with their time, talent, and treasure. But we also believe unwise charity can do harm. We never want to destroy the motivation, enthusiasm, and hustle that can frequently accompany the pursuit of a noble cause. And the moms of Ngombe have a noble cause. Their intensity of pursuit to achieve success for their children is a special attribute, and we want to add fuel to that fire, support it, and not quench it.

[From We Are Sew Powerful]

Perhaps it all boils down to the proverbial saying that “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” We teach trainees skills that impact the rest of their lives and can further impact their families and communities. It's a domino effect—truly life-changing skills.

If you want to change the world, where do you begin? Start by teaching a woman in poverty a survival skill such as sewing or soap-making. Empower her to teach others. Give her a living wage to support herself and her family, and you will change the world, one person at a time. That’s the Sew Powerful model. Thankfully, this model is growing in Zambia due to a network of donors worldwide who give generously month after month.

Is God Calling You To Join Us?

Is God calling you to join us in this vital work? We’d love to have you with us today. Everyone has something to offer—time, talent, treasure, and more. God has gifted all of us so that we can give back.

The apostle Paul said it best when he wrote in his letter to the Ephesians (2:10),

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Make a secure donation today: https://www.sewpowerful.org/pages/sew-powerful-purse

Learn more about how making a purse can change a life: https://www.sewpowerful.org/pages/is-there-a-period-gap

More About Peggy Creighton: Peggy holds a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology and is the author of several books and numerous magazine articles in the Library Media and Instructional Technology field. She retired from education in 2013, and now spends time sewing, quilting, crafting, writing, and enjoying her grandchildren. She serves as SE Area Manager for Sew Powerful and as an admin for the Sew Powerful Purse Project group on Facebook.

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