A Big Impact
If you had asked yesterday what a sewing machine was to me, I would’ve told you that mine was a birthday gift from my husband, stored now in the recesses of my closet as my life is filled to the brim with taking care of my two baby boys. I would’ve said it was something I would take out from time to time to mend a seam, sew a bag, or stitch a headband.
But that was yesterday.
That was before I started reading about how things so trivial to me, such as sewing machines, were liberating the potential within people in a refugee settlement in Uganda, thanks to the help of The Real Medicine Foundation. (RMF)
The Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute
Educating People, Changing Lives
The Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute is a vocational school that is within the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement located in Bweyale, Uganda. Thousands of refugees from Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Brundi, and Sudan have taken refuge in this settlement, many of whom suffer from lack of education, resources, and health care. The Vocational Training Institute offers classes to these refugees in tailoring & garment cutting, carpentry & joinery, bricklaying and concrete practice, and also hair dressing & beauty therapy. And thanks to the efforts of RMF, these classes are thriving and growing in number with each new session.
If you were to ask them what a sewing machine means to them, I think their answer would be slightly different than mine.
Real Life Impact
Ask Safina Haula. She graduated in 2015 from the Training Institute and with the gift of a sewing machine start-up kit, she was able to set up shop on her sister’s veranda and earn enough to contribute to her basic needs. Things as basic as being able to purchase a blanket, a bed sheet, shoes, and clothes for herself and her sisters.
Or Rachael Yar. She also graduated in August of 2015 and since has been obtaining new clients and making skirts, blouses, and has also begun designing tablecloths. She thanks RMF for making her a tailor. Each morning, she sets her machine up under a tree, determined to persevere through rain, dust, and even the hot sunshine. Because of this training, she has hope for a future. She has been able to begin to realize her potential as a person. She has been able to meet her basic needs.
Sarah Adior got her sewing machine start-up kit after graduating from the class of Tailoring and Garment Cutting, and got to work right away on her designs. She works from home, making bed sheets, pillow sheets, and other types of clothing. The money she earns help her buy food for her home, and meet other basic needs as well. Sarah is young and enthusiastic, and dreams of opening her own shop someday.
When I read these stories, the image of my sewing machine sitting abandoned in the recesses of my office closet would not leave my mind. Ask me what it meant to me: an extra something that was nice to use on occasion or when I felt artsy.
Ask these, and many other graduates of this program what a sewing machine meant to them: Hope. Liberation. The ability to meet basic needs. The ability to care for their family. The possibility of dreaming big and seeing more to life than a set of dire circumstances, whatever they may be.
Something Worth Talking About
And that is what The Real Medicine Foundation is all about. Liberating Human Potential. Giving hope when there was none. The Panyadoli Vocational Training Institute is only one of the initiatives that RMF is currently operating. Forty-eight active initiatives, 21 different countries, all working to bring hope, resources, and possibility to many different people groups and circumstances around the world.
This is something I want to be a part of! Something that is worth reading about, talking about, tweeting about – getting excited about! When we begin getting involved and thinking differently, things like a sewing machine take on new meaning. They begin to serve as reminder as to how we can help, how we can stay aware of things going on in our world, and how even simple things can mean so much when placed in the right hands.
Ask me today what a sewing machine means to me. You won’t be disappointed.
Get involved! Read more about RMF’s work in the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement .
Read Safina, Rachael, and Sarah’s stories , and learn about other lives being changed by the work RMF is doing in Kiryandongo.
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