Behind us the Mumosho Sewing Workshop hummed with activity, voices muffled, feet shuffling. Inside, sandal-clad feet rhythmically pressed pedals to power the Singer sewing machines, scissors snipped threads, irons heated with burning coals pressed out the creases in brightly patterned fabric. Outside, Bienvenie sat with perfect posture on the low stool, her gaze direct and unflinching as she told us about her life, describing how her mother did not have enough, enough food, enough money, to support her children after Bienvenie’s father died in a mining accident when she was only two. She shared her story, surrounded by the wide green leaves of banana trees, the red earth of Congo’s valley, a family’s chicken wandering by a thatched home.
It was 2012, and Bienvenie was one of the students at the Mumosho Sewing Workshop, where she was in training to make her hopes a reality. Growing up with a love of fashion and fabrics, Bienvenie always dreamed of learning to sew. Her dream appeared impossible, as she watched her mother struggle to make ends meet and feed the family from her harvest of long hours on the farm. Paying for a traditional education or sewing training was unimaginable. “But the people who started this program, I don’t know what I could give them. People who are supporting this program, I don’t know what to tell them, because for me, it has been a dream to have a place where I can learn sewing, and here I am. I am very happy.”
Fast-forward four years, and Bienvenie’s dream came true. Because of the people in the U.S. and around the world who support Action Kivu’s work with ABFEC in Mumosho, Bienvenie graduated with a sewing machine in the summer of 2012 and started working, making garments for clients in her community, and sewing alongside other graduates to make the school uniforms for the children Action Kivu sends to school with education assistance.
An entrepreneur, Bienvenie now operates her own business, and mentors another young seamstress. “Now people in the community bring me fabrics with value and they are confident, they trust me as now I know my job of seamstress well,” she tells Amani, our founder who started the Sewing Workshop.
“Ideas at first considered outrageous or ridiculous or extreme gradually become what people think they’ve always believed. How the transformation happened is rarely remembered, in part because it’s compromising: … it recalls that power comes from the shadows and the margins, that our hope is in the dark and around the edges, not the limelight of center stage. Our hope and often our power.” ~Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
Your partnership is making these ideas — dreams of equality, visions of women stitching together a better future for Congo — a reality. Consider partnering with the women and communities of Congo today! Learn more here.