CAPE Sewing workshop – helping parents support their families 6th Aug 2018 Giving hope Isabelle Ngendakumana is a mother of 7, who recently became a widow. Not knowing what to do next, she was persuaded to enroll in the CAPE’s literacy classes. She was very proud with the grade she gained: “I can now read my children’s homework”, she says. “My children are proud to see that their mother follow their homework ... It encourages them to work well”. Following this success, Isabelle joined CAPE’s sewing training. “I wanted to learn a trade. Having no training creates huge obstacles. As a widow with dependent children, it was very difficult for me to feed the family and provide for them”. At the end of the course, she hopes to receive a sewing machine, and is looking for clients who need sewing work in her neighbourhood. The whole experience has helped her begin a new life: “This sewing project allowed me to meet other women who had the same difficulties as me. This gave me the courage to fight for myself. People look at me differently now because I have evolved. I became aware of my own value as a woman. My ambition is to be a good seamstress and to be able to teach sewing to other women. Knowing that I am capable of this, lets me see a better future”. Escaping the cycle of poverty As one of the poorest countries in the world, and 184th out of 188 countries in the UNDP’s Human Development Index, Burundi has faced constant civil unrest and political turmoil. This has left the inhabitants to survive on casual labour and their children to wander the streets. CAPE (Centre d'Aide et de Protection de l'Enfant) set up the Murakaza School Project in the capital, Bujumbura, to support children and their parents in 2012. As well as providing schooling for over 1000 children since it started, CAPE runs vocational training classes for the parents, particularly the mothers, to give them the skills to run their own business and generate income for their family. This gives them hope that they can finally escape the cycle of poverty. “Now girls can become anything they want to be, like a doctor, a teacher or a government official.” Another woman to benefit from the literacy and sewing classes is Esperance Ntakirutimana, who has three children, and whose husband is unemployed, so the family has difficulty in putting enough food on the table. She joined the literacy and numeracy classes, which gave her the background to embark on sewing classes, which she started in November 2016. She wants to make enough money to feed her family and to send all her children to school, as usually boys are the priority. “It’s a new thing for girls to be educated”, she says, “Now they can become anything they want to be, like a doctor, teacher or a government official”. “We don’t discriminate: men are welcome too.” Men are not excluded from the programme. Ahikiye MacAire, is one of the fathers who joined the sewing workshop in October 2016, as he and his wife couldn’t earn enough from their casual labour to support their eight children. “It was difficult to start with, as I’d never sewn before,”, he says, “but little by little I’m improving my skills and enjoying it, and I look forward to being able to make a living from it so I can feed my family”. He is now able to repair his children’s clothes so they can go to school, and this avoids having to send their clothes to a seamstress, which costs money. He hopes to join the Gushona workshop, which CAPE is setting up to make items for sale, so he can improve his children’s lives, by providing them with food, paying for school fees and giving them a better opportunity for the future. Help those people who want to use their new skills to support their families. Our stories of hope at the CAPE sewing workshop demonstrate how if people are given the chance they will work hard to build their lives. “At the moment our workshop is going ahead very slowly, as there aren’t enough sewing machines. Having more machines is the most important because it means we don’t have to spend a lot of time waiting to practise”, says Esperance Ntakirutimana. “I want to be able to make to a living I can feed my family, so I need to get my own sewing machine”, says Ahikiye MacAire. You can help people like Ahikiye, Esperance and Isabelle, by making a donation so we can help them buy sewing machines for the workshop.