Chinotimba is a township within Victoria Falls, where you will find the majority of the city’s native population. It is also home to Umhambi’s headquarters, the drop-in center. The people living here in Chinotimba, amongst which are many single women, are packed tightly together with only the most basic of necessities to live. A situation worsened by the pandemic, many have no opportunity of finding work and therefore struggle to earn a living. A substantial proportion of the children supported by Umhambi come from this background.
For these children, food and school fees are not the only necessary expenses; even with school fees paid for by Umhambi, they need a new uniform very year, bought at a customary but for many unaffordable price. Putting two and two together lead to the idea of introducing a sewing room for these women, in which they can sew clothes and uniforms, either to sell or to support Umhambi, most likely both. This also allows Umhambi’s teenagers to learn these skills.
The obvious first step was organising sewing machines to be brought to the drop-in center. Thanks to numerous generous donations, we were able to take a total of 15 sewing machines (including chaining-machine) to Zimbabwe in the container. Next came the procurement of tables and chairs, which was made possible via a donation from the German embassy in Harare. This is something we are very grateful for.
The current, and more difficult challenge is finding adequate space for a sewing room; the drop-in center being too small and poorly designed for the job. The current lack of an alternative has lead to plans for a new building where this project can take place.
However, until these plans materialise, a lot of time will have passed. The women have therefore set up the sewing machines outdoors in order to began with their work. Due to the rainy season beginning in December, this was no longer possible, and three of the machines have now been placed in the drop-in center. School uniforms are now being sewn here, with materials financed by Umhambi.
Given the current conditions, the sewing project has so far been a success. However, in order for a substantial amount of women to benefit from the project, a new and bigger building is necessary. Right now, only 3 of the 15 sewing machines are in use, despite the many women desperate to be a part of the project. For similar reasons, the training of Umhambi’s teenagers has been put on hold.