The Sewing School
The Congo Restoration Sewing School teaches women a skill helps them — and their country — rise up. So far, more than 700 women have graduated from the school.
Graduates to Date
Congo Restoration opened its sewing school in 2010. The genocide that spilled over from bordering neighbor Rwanda continued the rape culture of conflict in the DRC. When a woman is raped in Congo, she is deemed ruined by her family and community. In addition, many women are not given the opportunity to finish secondary or many times even primary school. The sewing school’s first classes of students were women who had been raped. In the early days, we provided soap for the families who sent their daughters to our school, Mama Gorethy meeting with the families to assure them their daughters were not wasting their time learning a skill. The soap, something difficult to come by for many rural families, was enough to balance out that the young women would not be working in the fields during their time at school.
Now, our graduates stand out in the village of Mudaka. They are respected businesswomen who help support their families and have enough money to send their children to school. Whereas we once had to convince families to send their daughters, now hundreds of women line up each time word gets out we are picking a new class of students.
Students attend classes for six to eight months, 40 to a class. Upon graduation, they receive a diploma (which means so much to these women), a sewing machine to be shared with another graduate, and a sewing kit to help start their business. The shared sewing machine keeps the partners accountable to each other in case they are tempted to sell the machine for necessities like food.
Since our sewing school opened, 99% of all graduates have started their own businesses. They are leaders in their families and in their communities, having been lifted up with this important skill of sewing.