Tailoring is changing my life – Adjumani (Uganda)

21 April 2024|Avola Tabitha

Related: Livelihoods, Uganda

Maia Jackline, 22, Ugandan from Biyaya village, Pacara sub county, Adjumani district. She is one of the tailoring students that completed the tailoring training, a six month certified course, and recently sat for her Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) examinations. She is a part of the team of ladies under the Daughters of Mary Association.

“I was so happy when I first got the news that I had qualified for the tailoring program, for me it was a dream come true. Earlier in 2015 while at school, I applied for the JRS secondary school scholarship but did not get it. It is indeed a great opportunity that I got the training when I need it most at this time in my life. I am young and that is my advantage, because I want to go for further studies, get a diploma and also be able to train and employ others.”

Jackline stopped in senior four after she became pregnant. “I first dropped out of school in senior three. After the birth of my first born, my parents decided to take me back to school and in 2018 I sat my senior four. My plan was to pursue the advanced level but my parents could not afford it, instead I got married and got another child.”

Jackline now has a 5 year old daughter and a one and half year old son. She resides with her husband, a wielder and her in-laws. “Getting married at an early age was not my choice, but because of the situation, my husband decided we had to get married.”

“The last couple of months have been tough. My husband does not work and I have to sell charcoal to feed my family.” Jackline says that even when he gets the occasional job, he does not support them. She applied for the tailoring course with hope that itwould be the turning point in her life. “Joining this training has changed my life. I have got the tailoring training and skill. JRS has provided us with food support and transport that has helped to lighten the burden on my shoulder. As a wielder, my husband often gets work but does not assist the family.”

Balancing class, work and parenthood

“I come for the afternoon class. This gives me time to organize my charcoal for sale, prepare myself and also cook food for my children before attending class. My younger sister used to remain with the children, but she is now back in school. At the market,my friends and colleagues help sell my products.”

Jackline has always had a desire to learn tailoring but lacked the opportunity. At home she would tinker with her sister-in-law’s machine and watch while she made clothes for her customers. “This is my first time learning tailoring and for me it is a deepappreciation. I love tailoring and the freedom of creativity it gives me. I have even made the gomesi which is one of the hardest fashions here.”

At home, Jackline now uses her sister-in-law’s sewing machine and helps out when the garment orders are overwhelming. She too has begun to amass a customer base. “The other day I made a matching cloth for me and my son, when a neighbor saw us, he asked me to make a similar fashion for his son. He paid me and even gave me a big tip and has now ordered a dress for his wife.”

Learning business skills

“The business skills class was important to me. It will help me to know and understand the customer’s choice, my business progression and whether am making profits or loses. It is also vital for me to learn how to save money and to get to know where Istand against my competitors.”

In the first three months of the training, the ladies are taught business skills to enable them establish and build a business after the training.

Testing out the market

“Every week we learn new things. New stiches, new cuts, fashions and also make new and different designs and styles of clothes. To test out the market, we were all given some clothes to sell. I sold all the nine dresses I had been given and got 30,000ughs. The advantage is that I work at the market and getting customers is easy.”

“I see there is a lot of potential in marketing and selling my products to the public. It has even exposed me to many customers. Up to now there are some that ask for dresses.”

“I do believe I will get market for my products. We began class in September 2021 and when the festive season came around, I knew some things. I used my sister-in-law’s sewing machine and made some garments for sale.”

Plans for the future

“I am so excited because in these last months I have seen my life begin to shape itself. I am not as worried or a stressed as I used to be because I see a way forward.” Jackline has been saving for a personal sewing machine. She plans to go for further studies and attain a degree in tailoring and garment designing and become a professional instructor.

“I want to be a role model to other girls who have dropped out of school and let them know that there is a lot you can do afterwards.”

However, Jackline’s greatest fear is the lack of support especially from her husband who she says has not been home in months.

Jackline is a representation of all the girls whose hopes and dreams for a better future is being restored. JRS has trained 56 students who have successfully completed the tailoring course. The 6 months course targets young mothers, school dropouts, single mothers and the most vulnerable girls and women, is meant to empower the women to take care of themselves and their families and live lives of dignity and self- sustenance.