Chai with Shanti’s Women
by Dena Thomas, Monitoring and Evaluations Intern
When working on development projects in countries like Uganda, I am constantly amazed by the assortment of people I meet from around the world with interesting stories and backgrounds. Meet Teopista, Jesca and Racheal – three women from the income generating group. Under the shade of a protective straw hut, we sit and talk together…
How long have you been coming to Shanti’s Women’s Income Generating Group (WIGG) for and how did you hear about it?
We started coming to Shanti in 2009, and since joining WIGG we’ve been coming most Thursday’s since then. We heard about Shanti through Bishop Asili Hospital, where we were being treated for HIV/AIDS. They teach us to make things that will help bring income for us so that we can live.
What type of things do you make?
We have learned to make beads which we string together to make necklaces, bracelets and earrings. We also have sewing machines and textiles which we make laptop bags, cosmetic bags, diaper bags, yoga bags, banana bags, baby bags, backpacks, coin purses, oven mitts and nalongo bags – oh, and table mats!
Which do you prefer making?
Most of us enjoy making beads because we all sit down together and spend the afternoon working, talking and sharing difficulties together. Making banana bags is also fine because they are more simple than oven mitts.
Your fabrics are so vibrant and colorful. Which are your favorite colors?
Well, when we are making textiles for Canada, we use colors that are good for the seasons. Blue, reds, browns, greens. We like browns and greens the most though.
Teopista, the blue dress you are wearing is stunning. Did you make it?
Yes!! I learned how to sew about 13 years ago from my auntie, and I made this one myself in only 1 day! (Shy giggle)
Jescac and Racheal, who taught you to sew?
Jesca: A friend taught me.
Racheal: I learned here at Shanti!
How long does it take you to make a necklace?
About 6 hours on average.
Well you guys are making some really beautiful items. Thanks for sharing your story with me.