Two women sit in a motorcycle shop, one at a sewing machine
MCC Photo/Lindsay Linegar

Since graduating from an MCC-supported tailoring program in Juba, South Sudan, in 2013, Anet Konga, right, has established herself as a well-known tailor in her community. 

Working out of her husband’s motorcycle parts shop, Anet Konga, regularly earns about $117 per month by making dresses and shirts and doing repairs. Ayikoru Florence, left, began the tailoring program years ago, believing that giving under-educated, war-affected women a chance to learn a trade would propel them out of poverty and into sustainable livelihoods. Since beginning a partnership with MCC in 2009, hundreds of women like Konga have graduated from the program. Here, the two women discuss ideas for improving Konga’s business. Konga hopes one day to have her own place to display her work to customers, and she is eager to continue learning new skills through the tailoring program, such as embroidery.

When I heard about this program, I thought God had answered my prayers.”
– Anet Konga, graduate, MCC-supported tailoring program, Juba, South Sudan

A women sews on a sewing machine with garments arranged on hangers behind her. MCC Photo/Leah Reesor-Keller

In Nepal, MCC partner Sakriya Sewa Samaj supports people living with HIV and AIDS with a variety of outreaches, including help with income generation. Nirmala Mukhiya of Argakanchi District was able to take a three-month sewing training and purchase a sewing machine with financial assistance from Sakriya and another organization.

Four young women proudly hold dresses up. MCC Photo/Yolanda Weima

Florida Ninkeje, Lydie Nsengiyumva, Edissa Nahishakiye and Souavis Ndayikeze show dresses they made in a vocational training workshop of MCC partner Christian Union for Peace and Development (UCPD) in Burundi. Here, people rely on tailors to make outfits for special occasions such as weddings, baptisms or Christmas. After graduating in 2013, these young women are working on market days to take orders from customers and to do jobs, such as repairs. But getting established as a tailor takes time. They say they are primarily called on for simple, straightforward sewing such as children’s clothing, skirts and shirts. They hope customers will get to know them and have enough confidence in their skills to hire them for items like gowns made of more expensive material. MCC supports UCPD’s work in training and apprenticeships in sewing, masonry and carpentry. Read more on p. 16 about the difference the carpentry program is making in young people’s lives.

Young woman squatting on the floor, cuts cloth. MCC Photo/Yui Iwase

In Cambodia, 15-year-old Chou Sreyroth uses skills from sewing and tailoring classes at Trapeng Chre Secondary School, one of several secondary schools offering sewing instruction with support from MCC’s Global Family education program. Her family struggled to make ends meet from a yearly rice harvest and work as day laborers in others’ fields. “I wanted to learn and have new skills to help earn an income for my family,” Sreyroth says. Since starting the classes, she used money she earned working in the fields, combined with a loan from neighbors, to buy a sewing machine. Now, through sewing, she earns about $120 a month, money that helps the family and pays for her school supplies. And in an area where many youth migrate to find work in other countries, she has the skills to build a business at home.

Hands sew on a cloth bookmark. Sacred Mark Photo/Ishrat Jahan Deepa

In Bangladesh, Sacred Mark, an enterprise developed by MCC Bangladesh, gives former sex workers a chance to forge a new future. In addition to making soap, women sew items from recycled saris, including this bookmark as well as bags and bed coverings, some of which are sold through Ten Thousand Villages.

A young woman holds a paper pattern standing in front of a chalkboard with diagrams of patterns displayed AMICUMO Photo/Cleva Tazviona

“I am very happy for my successes as I have already learned to make skirts, shirts and trousers,” says Sara Jossefa, 16, a tailoring student at the Association of the United Church of Christ Members for Social Development (AMICUMO) vocational school in Muxunguè, Mozambique. MCC’s Global Family education program pays for sewing classes in this area, which suffered heavy fighting in Mozambique’s 16-year war, which ended in 1992. After years of disrupted schooling and economic activities, many people are unemployed and can’t afford secondary education for their children, leaving a great need for vocational training.