Feed them for a lifetime: Donating skills better than money

Ever heard the proverb about teaching someone to fish, and feeding them for a lifetime? This month, the Chinese Government will do just that – but with a different skill.

In the village of Afega, 20 women are set to become sewing experts in just three weeks, thanks to a donation of brand new sewing machines by China.

As well as 20 Singer sewing machines, the Chinese Embassy has brought over trainers and interpreters to teach the women how to use and repair the machines to make clothes, furnishings and anything else they may wish to create.

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The goal is to help the women become more financially independent, through selling the clothes they make but also spending less on readymade clothes.

Thelma (Fema) Schuster is one of the first women who will be trained on the new machines and eventually will be expected to teach other women how to sew as well. She said she is looking forward to helping her six daughters keep up with local trends the way they like to, but at half the cost.

“I can’t make those styles, so we buy their clothes – but now I can learn how to sew.”

She said she hopes she’ll learn quickly from the trainer and from her peers so that she can teach others too.

Taulesulu Malifa is from the village women’s Council. She said the sewing machines will help the whole community, not just the women trained to use them. The machines are new and run the old fashioned way with foot pedals, so are not dependant on electricity – a necessary requirement in most villages.

Also new to sewing is Siliva Otineru, who said she is excited to have a new way to help her family with money. The programme is facilitated by the Hunan International Business Vocational College who have sent a sewing trainer and interpreter to each of the villages involved, and cost China T$1.2 million.

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