Growing up I always valued the teaching in Proverbs 31:13, “She works with her hands in delight”.
This led me to value working with my hands – and specifically, prompted an interest in sewing and clothes making. Eventually I was able to become a tailor. About two years ago, as I was cutting fabrics and making clothes, I dreamt of helping other women start small scale tailoring projects. I opened my house to help two vulnerable women learn the basics of sewing, and also offered them some counseling. Word about these activities quickly spread in my community and I decided to start a small tailoring class.
And then, at the beginning of 2021, God opened an amazing avenue. I received support from a Palmer Grant with the advice and assistance of our International Ministries Area Director, Karen Smith. With support from the Palmer Grant, the Trees of Peace Africa (TOP Africa) Tailoring School was officially opened! It provides a comprehensive one-year training. Our students are carefully recruited based on their interest in tailoring and their level of need. We began with the first cohort of eight students. Each student has her own unique talents and stories. So far the project impact is huge, with every stitch is promising a bright future. In addition to tailoring we are offering business, peer counseling and peace building skills.
Here is a testimony from Ruvarashe (name changed to protect her identity), one of the project beneficiaries:
“Meeting Mrs Muteyo is a testimony. I grew up in Mahusekwa village. My mother got pregnant with me when she was 14, and my father didn’t take any responsibility as he had several wives. In fact my father belongs to a certain indigenous religious church. It has a large following in Zimbabwe, and its members marry off their young daughters to other members. Children as young as nine years are sexually assaulted and married off. This is what happened to my mother. It is a long and sad story! She died when I was four and she was just eighteen. She could have survived had they taken her to hospital; however, this ‘church’ does not believe in hospitals.
After my mother died, I went to live with my maternal grandmother in the same village while my father was busy having children with dozens of other women. May God bless the departed soul of my grandmother Gogo Mavhinga — she was an old lady with a caring heart. I was supposed to be married at the age of 11 to one of the members of the church. My mind was too young to understand what was happening but Gogo Mavhinga knew about this. Through her contacts and advocacy she sent me to an orphanage in Harare. I am 21 now with a two-year old baby. I was 18 when I met the father of Tonderai my son. We were so deeply in love and I thought he was going to be my savior. As soon as I got pregnant I realised that he was a married man. This is how it ended. The orphanage continued to support me out of goodwill since they cannot support anyone above 18 years old.
Around Easter this year the staff at the orphanage introduced me to Mrs. Muteyo. She listened to my story and provided counseling for me over two months. She walked with me. On 2 August 2021 I started my first tailoring class. Mrs Muteyo and Mrs Deshe are our teachers. I now know the basic knowledge of types of fabrics, drafting skirts and dresses, and how to sew non- clothing items like cushions, curtains and table runners. We also receive counseling and learn Biblical principles for peace building and conflict transformation. It’s a lovely environment. The good thing is that I come with my son who plays around while I am busy learning. It’s a safe environment. Last week, Mrs Muteyo took me to the showroom she opened for students in Harare. I am sure by August next year I will be a professional seamstress and designer operating my own small shop.”
Thank you for your support!
International Associate Global Servant