Rosine meets with the sewing students at the Mumosho Women’s Center, leaning over a shoulder to check one woman’s work, eyeing the stiching of another’s, offering encouragement and tips on creating gorgeous garments from a bolt of fabric, needles, thread, and a simple Singer sewing machine.
At 22, Rosine is as young as many of her students, teaching a marketable skill to teen mothers and other young women who could not afford school. Rosine had to drop out of elementary school in the sixth grade, her mother unable to pay for further education. Four years ago, desperate for a way to help her family, she found a job on a farm, growing beans for a small wage. Selling her harvest was just enough to pay someone to teach her to sew. Her hard work led to a position as a teacher at ABFEK’s sewing workshop in the Mumosho Women’s Center, supported by Action Kivu, which offers free classes to train women in eastern Congo to start their own businesses.
“By training the other women,” Rosine says, “I am always thinking that the women and
rest of the community will become able to take care of themselves, their
families and why not the community.”
Rosine learned about ABFEK’s work from her brother, a student who is sent to school through Action Kivu/ABFEK’s sponsorship. “I also know that ABFEK built the Mumosho Peace Market,” a safe place for the community to gather to sell their fruits, vegetables, fish, and goods. After she attended last year’s sewing graduation ceremony, she was interested in teaching at the workshop.
“Being a sewing trainer makes me happy,” she says, taking a break from work. Rosine has seen the benefits of what she teaches directly, through her ability to help her family with her income, especially after her father passed away a year ago. “I help my mom to take care of the rest of my family. Whenever my mom is unable to buy food and I have some money out of my savings from sewing, I jump in and fix the issue. If one of my brothers needs to pay school fees, I am able to help from time to time.”
When asked what their greatest needs are, and how the partners of Action Kivu might help, Rosine reminded us that they need support to make sure they have all they need to continue training the women, to ensure the sustainability of all the programs hosted by Action Kivu through ABFEK.
Rosine’s story is just beginning, as she plans for her upcoming marriage, and worries about how to continue helping her mother and brothers, while she starts her own family. We work to surround Rosine, and all the women working and learning and living in the communities of eastern Congo, with support.
You can partner with the women and children of Congo by donating here! To start their business, sewing graduates are each given a sewing kit, including a pedal-powered machine, fabric, scissors, thread, and more, totaling $195 USD. (Action Kivu is a U.S. 501c3, and 100% of the funds go to the programs on the ground, minus nominal banking fees.)