In ABFEK,Action Kivu,Education Assistance Programs,Equal Rights | Women's Rights,Jewish World Watch,Sewing Workshop

Ernata’s Story Unfolds: Sewing Grads and School Uniforms

Thanks to this year’s back to school grant from Jewish World Watch, funds were allocated for new uniforms for the 115 primary students and 52 new secondary students who started school last week. Creating a circle of sustainability, the graduates of the sewing workshop gather at the sewing center, and provided materials, fabric, thread and buttons, they use their new skills to create the school uniforms for the kids, earning an income of five dollars per outfit. While this may not sound like much, it helps them buy food and basic supplies for their families. Where once there was no income at all, women are now primary sources of support, instilling a sense of pride in their families and communities, while caring for the kids who get to wear brand new “back to school” clothes.
Ernata, January 2012. Photo by Cate Haight.

Ernata graduated with her sewing certificate in June, 2012.  When we met her in January, her story echoed that of a society where women have very little rights or value, and can be divorced without recourse for not bearing a male heir.  “My first marriage, I spent two years in my household,” Ernata told us. “I didn’t have any children, and I suffered a lot from my husband.  He kicked me out because I didn’t have any children.  After being kicked out by my first husband, I returned home, and spent six months at home.  Another man married me.  After about 6 to 7 months with my second husband, I could not conceive. He also kicked me out, divorced me.”

Then came another man, from a different village, whose wife had died and left him with seven kids.  Ernata married for the third time, and after only three months, she conceived.  “I was blessed to have one child, a boy, but it was after surgery (a cesarean delivery).  After two years and three months, my only child died.  I was there, living with my husband, but I was afraid.  Six months had passed after my child died, and I hadn’t conceived again.  I was afraid, and things had changed again, become negative, with my husband.”

Though he already has seven children, he wants another from Ernata.  “And me, too,” she said. “Because if I have a child, I’m stable there.”

“I have a big wound inside my heart,” Ernata told us. “If I don’t have children with my husband, he will kick my out.  I’m noticing some changes, bad behavior, from his family members, who might urge him to chase me (from the home).”

Nine months later, Ernata is giving birth to a different dream, as she works hard to sew uniforms for the kids in her village.  She takes a break from her own sewing to supervise a fellow seamstress. ‘‘I am very proud of myself today,” Ernata shares, “and my husband is proud of me and he’s happy to have me as a wife, especially as I help make an income for the family.”
Ernata supervises Cikuru, sewing school uniforms in Mumosho.
What a difference education, partnership and support can make!  Thank you to all who continue to partner with the women, children, and communities of Congo.
Sewing Workshop graduate Alani prepares the fabric for a school uniform.

Leave a Reply

Send Us Message


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>