Rose Akinyi Onyango works in Obambo, Kisumu, Kenya empowering women and young girls to be economically independent through tailoring. Founded in 2008, the Faith Tailoring Center Project provides onsite training to women who do not get a chance to continue their education. Given the background of the female participants, Rose also provides counseling services while networking with the community to provide health workshops and connections to local loan cooperatives. We are so impressed with Rose and her team and we thrilled to meet them in person! Read below to hear more of Rose’s story!
The Faith Tailoring Center Project was formed in 2008 by Rose Akinyi. Living in a rural village where girls hardly proceed to higher learning after completing their primary education due to poverty, I decided to transform my business to a training centre. The training began in 2010 .I usually have six trainees at a time and the training lasts 6 months. The project aims to improve lives of women, widows and out of school girls who do not get a chance to continue their education so that they can earn income and avoid early marriages and pregnancies.
Having been raised from a poor background, I only completed my primary education and got married at a very young age. My husband would later take me to a tailoring training course where I got my skills and became a professional tailor. I got employed as a tailor in Nairobi before I moved to Obambo village where I started my dressmaking business under a tree with a borrowed sewing machine. I would leave my house every morning for work and come home late in the evening with enough money to sustain my family. My neighbors on the other hand would sometimes go hungry because they fully depend on their husbands who also don’t get money when they miss work. This inspired me to empower my fellow women by training them so that later they will fully be independent and provide for their families.
My purpose is to mainly empower women and young girls economically by giving them skills in tailoring. Educating a woman is educating the world and so I believe if I empower women then poverty will reduce and the lives of the community and society as a whole will improve. The young girls who drop out of school because of early pregnancy are also taught on the dangers of having sex without protection by our community health worker who visits our centre when we invite them. Getting pregnant is one thing and exposing yourself to dangerous infections of STDS and HIV/AIDS is even more dangerous. Our trainees besides being empowered economically are also supported emotionally. My project helps nurture economically sustainable women, women of great character and value, responsible women who provide for themselves and families and a society which does not stigmatize school dropouts.
Over the years, I have built successful partnerships with self-help groups in the village, churches and local schools such as Akili School and Riley Orton Foundation Org. As a result, I get tenders for making school uniforms for these groups. Through Riley Orton Foundation Org , I have received funding from Tailored For Education org to make uniforms for over 1000 students from different schools in the community annually. During the COVID-19 outbreak this year, I have also received funding to make about 5000 face masks for free distribution to the vulnerable community members who cannot afford them.
Such tenders/jobs keep us busy and ensure that the trainees have real experience working and perfecting their skills. It also gives us the much needed income to support our families in a sustainable way. We are very grateful to Tailored For Education Org for this wonderful support.
I have also kept in touch with previous trainees /graduates of the program who have opened up their own tailoring businesses. When we have more tenders than we can handle, we forward some to them.
I consider myself successful if all my graduate trainees start their own tailoring shops or secure employment with dressmaking shops and distributors in Kisumu or elsewhere. When they find gainful employment, we will have more independent women in our community doing their businesses. This will indicate that our center is successful.