Sewing Project 2021 and Beyond
Pastoralist Child Foundation's Sewing Project - 2021 and beyond
In an effort to empower themselves with income generating and sustainable skills, women in Samburu and Maasai Mara told Sayydah Garrett, Founder & President of Pastoralist Child Foundation (PCF) that they would love to learn how to sew. Their intention is to generate income so they could send more of their daughters to school. Although primary school education is free, parents must still come up with the money to pay for uniforms and school supplies. This becomes a true burden for parents, many of whom are single female heads of households with several children. PCF loved the idea and immediately started fundraising to buy sewing machines.
PCF was founded in 2012 with the mission to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage in Samburu and Maasai Mara, Kenya where the rate of FGM is 93%. Once a girl is “cut” at puberty she is at very high risk of forced early marriage. Her dreams of continuing her education are squashed. She is now a married “woman” who will bear the responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, fetching water, fetching firewood, building the huts, and so on. She will never step into a classroom again, and sadly, will most likely not encourage her daughters to get an education.
PCF is built around the foundation and values of educating females about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child marriage, teen pregnancy, sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence, health & sanitation, the importance of formal education, and economic empowerment for women.
The Samburu and Maasai are sister tribes. They’re known globally for their beautiful colorful tribal attire and unique hand beaded jewelry and accessories. The majority of their sales are to tourists from around the world who go on safari to Kenya.
There are currently 25 women in the Samburu women’s self-help group and 60 women in the Maasai Mara group who are participating in the sewing project. They will learn how to make clothes, tote bags, wallets, accessories, and other items to sell to tourists. They will also sew school uniforms for children. They are most excited about learning how to make washable reusable cotton sanitary napkins! Girls miss up to a week of school every month when they’re menstruating because they simply can’t afford expensive store-bought sanitary napkins.
When deciding upon what kind of sewing machines to buy, the women agreed on the Singer model with a treadle. This works well because they don’t have to rely on electricity and can use them at anytime. Now that they have the sewing machines, local volunteers are teaching them how to sew. PCF is so excited about this program! The women feel such a sense of pride and accomplishment and are even talking about teaching their daughters how to sew! They will eventually take ownership of the program and support each other. They will take responsibility for the program’s preparation, design, operation and maintenance. PCF will continue monitoring joint meetings and monitoring the project activities to assess progress levels and effectiveness.
Thank you to all of our friends, donors, and well-wishers who support this important program!