Before her training course paid for by WOMA, Ruth Nakabuye was selling chapatis on the side of the road for one dollar a day.
She graduated in 2017 and has already set up her own business making school uniforms and designing and making dresses. On a good day she can now earn 40 dollars. She has opened a bank account and is able to save a little after she’s paid for food and her children’s school fees. She has plans to expand her business when she has enough capital.
Ruth Nakabuye graduated in 2017 and has her own business making school uniforms and dresses.
Barbara Nambuya is a WOMA trainee who graduated in 2007. She is a widow and in 2006 lost her job and had no means of supporting herself and her daughter Katrina. She heard about WOMA and applied for the tailoring/design course and over the past few years she has gradually grown her business and now shares a workshop with another woman and rents a stall in the market in Kampala a couple of days a week to sell her garments.
Barbara started out making one dress at a time because that was all she could afford and gradually she got enough money to buy more material and to increase her stock. Barbara is now able to pay her daughter’s school fees out of the money that she earns through her tailoring business. Katrina is doing really well at school and hopes one day to be a doctor.
Barbara shares a workshop with another woman and rents a market stall in Kampala.
In 2003, Alice Tshume’s husband died of Aids. She was forced to send her two sons to stay with relatives many miles from her home so that they could go to school.
Her fifteen-year-old daughter, Sylvia, however had to stay behind and help Alice in the fields. They grew food not to sell but purely to survive. Alice had no training to help her get a job, and so she couldn’t afford the £300 needed to pay for a course which would provide her with skills that could open doors to a new life.
Alice Tshume and daughter Sylvia working in the fields.
Alice was one of the first women WOMA sent on a tailoring/design course. She successfully completed the course, and now has her own business making dresses, tablecloths and cushion covers for a range of customers.
She has also been commissioned by the charity Action Aid to carry out training courses for them, and is mentoring other women who were in the same situation as herself.
Her life has dramatically improved in recent years; she now makes enough money to send all her children to school, and to finish building her own house.
Alice is one of our earliest graduates and over the past ten years she has played an important role in mentoring other trainees.
At WOMA’s 10th anniversary workshop in March 2015, Alice was one of the speakers and shared her experiences with the other women, not just about building up a tailoring business but also about living with HIV.
At the workshop Alice proudly told us that her daughter, Sylvia (who when we first met her had been taken out of school to help her mother in the fields) had not only been able to return to school to finish her education but she had recently graduated from university.
Alice Tshume addressing the 10th anniversary conference in Kampala in 2015.
Nora is 29 years old. She has a 7 year old daughter called Joanitar. She lives in the capital Kampala , and has been on her own since her husband died in 2002. She attended the WOMA-sponsored textile training course three days a week for three months.
She only had a rudimentary understanding of how to use a sewing machine, but learnt a lot from the course, and has just collected one of WOMA’s sewing machines which will be lent to her for the next six months until she is established in business. She will then have the option to purchase the machine for half the original price, or return it so that another trainee can benefit from it.
Zahara graduated from the Namasuba College of Commerce & Technology in 2017. Before going on the course paid for by WOMA, life was hard. Her husband left her after discovering her HIV status. She took in washing to earn some money, but often her children had to go to school hungry and she struggled to pay the bills.
After finishing her training course she was eager to start her own business, but became severely ill and was paralysed for several months. Once she recovered she started making clothes for her children because she couldn’t afford to buy much material. The parents of their school friends were her first clients and over the past few years she has steadily grown her business. She makes school uniforms, dresses and bags and has created a design for her children’s choir uniforms.
She recently finished a contract from 307 school uniforms and is passing on her skills to her daughter Angel, so that she can help her with the larger contracts. Now the women whose clothes she washed ask her to make clothes from them.
She can now afford to feed her children, Angel and Ezekiel and pay their school fees. She has opened a bank account so she can try to save some money for the future. When she finishes school Angel would like to go to university and study to be an accountant and Ezekiel wants to be a doctor. Zahara is hopeful that if her business continues to grow she will be able to help her children realise their full potential. Zahara’s achievements are all the more remarkable as she runs her business from home without any electricity.
Zahara with her children.
Goretti Nakijjoba finished her training at the Namasuba College of Technology and Commerce in October 2017. She has already been employed to pass on her dressmaking and design skills to other women and has secured a contract to make uniforms for a local school.
Before going on the course she took in washing to try to support her four children but struggled to make ends meet. She now earns enough so that she can save a little each month and has opened a bank account.
Goretti Nakijjoba finished her training at the Namasuba College of Technology and Commerce.
Martha and Flavia
Both these women lost their husbands to HIV/Aids, and were struggling to support their families.
WOMA paid for their training course at the TEXDA Textile Agency in Kampala where they learnt how to dye fabrics, design and make clothes. They were also taught basic business management.
Martha lives in the west of Uganda and travelled five hours on a bus to get to our recent workshop (March 2015). She used to make this journey every week when she was on her course. She would leave home very early on Monday morning and return home Wednesday night. Her family looked after her children for her whilst she was training. She was another of our first intake of trainees.
Her eldest daughter has just graduated from Kyambogo university with a degree in psychology, her son is doing an internship in law and her youngest daughter will soon be finishing school and hopes to get a place at the Makerere University in Kampala this year to study economics. She has been able to pay for her children’s education through her tailoring business.
Flavia lives in Kampala and has got a number of contracts already for curtains and clothing, and hopes soon to be able to set up a women’s co-operative with Alice.
Martha was one of the first intake of trainees.
Edith is thirty years old. She lives in Kampala with her two children – girls aged 2 ½ and 8. In April 2006 her husband died, so she signed up for a WOMA-sponsored textile training course, which she completed in November 2006.
She now works for a firm which makes tents. She hopes to branch out on her own eventually.
Jackie Arinaitwe is one of WOMA’s first graduates from 2005. She now has a very successful business. She not only sells her clothes within Uganda but is exporting to Kenya as well. She also takes in two trainees from the local university to teach them the skills that she has learnt through her WOMA course. She would like to take in more but there isn’t enough room in her current workshop. She has ambitions to open her own tailoring school one day.
Jackie started by getting a loan from a family member to buy three pieces of material. She made her first dress and wore it to church and soon got her first order. The quality of the dress and the design was so good that word soon spread and she got more orders. She makes the uniforms for her church choir and it was this that lead her to making clothes for a visiting choir from Mombasa who liked her clothes so much they placed an order with her. She puts the garments on a bus to a Mombasa and someone picks them up the other end. She has three children and two other dependants, nephews who have lost their parents to Aids. She is supporting them all and putting them through school. Her eldest child has just graduated from university.
Jackie Arinaitwe sells clothes within Uganda and exports to Kenya.
Jennifer and Christine
Jennifer and Christine did the WOMA training course together a few years ago. They now work together with another friend in their house making clothes, soft furnishings and bags.
Christine has one daughter, Joan. Joan has just done her O’levels and wants to carry on in school and do her A’levels.
Jennifer has three daughters, two have finished school and just completed courses in hairdressing/make-up. They are working as hairdressers but putting money away each month as they would like to go to journalism college.
Jennifer’s youngest daughter is still in school and she hopes to be able to support her as well through her tailoring business. Apart from the tailoring skills that she learned on the course Jennifer says that one of the most important things that she learned was how to save and budget for the future. Since attending the course she has opened a bank account something that she wouldn’t have thought of doing a few years ago.
Jennifer and Christine work together making clothes, soft furnishings and bags.
Veronica graduated from the Namasuba College of Commerce in 2016. As well as learning how to sew and design clothes, Veronica also learned basic skills to help her set up her own business and to manage customers.
She rents a workshop with two fellow trainees and together they have formed a small co-operative making a wide range of clothes and home furnishings. The money she earns through her business has enabled her to pay school fees not just for her own children but for the other youngsters who make up her extended family.
Veronica Nakawunde rents a workshop with two fellow trainees.
Rehema Nakesa and Wanzu Grace Namuddu
Rehema Nakesa graduated in 2018 and Wanzu Grace Namuddu in 2017. They live in the same neighbourhood and together they have formed an association of fifteen women in their local area. They have recently finished making 100 aprons for the Ministry of Education and will soon be starting a contract for school uniforms. They also make a range of clothes which they sell at the local market. They have already taken on four trainees from their community and are passing on the skills they’ve learned and they hope to increase the number of trainees as their business expands. Before going on the training course paid for by WOMA Rehema told us that life was very hard and she often had to beg for food. In addition to her tailoring business Wanzu counsels women with HIV.
Rehema and Wanzu have formed an association of 15 women in their local area.
Dorothy Achieng Ngeso
Dorothy Achieng Ngeso trained at the Buru Buru School of Fine Arts in Nairobi where she learned tailoring and design. She now runs her own business in the NE of Nairobi. She has a workshop which she shares with a friend where she makes and sells her garments. As well as dresses, she makes school uniforms and is now branching out into soft furnishings and household accessories.
Dorothy says that life has changed dramatically since she went on the training course. She can now afford food for her family, pay her rent and pay the school fees for her two children. She would like to be able to expand her business and keep a larger stock of materials and to be able to employ other people to work with her so that she can help others.
Dorothy Achieng Ngeso trained at the Buru Buru School of Fine Arts in Nairobi.