ST. JOSEPH’S CENTRE, MALAWI, AFRICA
SEWING FACILITY UPDATE
In July of 2016, an exciting new project began at the St. Joseph’s Centre. The project, designed and implemented by Fr. Phillip Mbeta with assistance from the Montfort Missionaries, was to raise enough money to construct a new building where local villagers in rural Malawi could get the instruction necessary to make clothing and other wares that could then be sold to families of school children (school uniforms are worn by all school children in Malawi) and at local markets.
In Malawi, extreme weather like flooding and drought can wipe out crops and destroy the food supply for Malawians in the rural villages and leave them scrambling to find enough food to feed their families. The year 2016 illustrates the struggles Malawian endure. http://www.wfp.org/news/news-release/wfp-begins-unprecedented-emergency-food-relief-operation-drought-hit-Malawi. Our hope is that teaching rural Malawians a skill that could generate income would help limit their risk in times of lean harvests.
Thanks to the Joliet Rotary Club and the Rotary Foundation, twelve new Singer sewing machines (manually operated with a foot pedal) were delivered to the St. Joseph’s Centre. In addition, Rotary funded six weeks of training by professional tailors for local villagers so that they could become proficient in using the machines.
And, thanks to generous support of Spesia & Ayers and many others, and the hard work of our Malawian friend Fr. Phillip Mbeta, construction of a “Textiles and Commerce Building” that now houses the sewing operation is complete! Lori Spesia and others visited the site in June 2017 and were exceptionally pleased with the new facility. Eight local women were students and completed a six-week training program provided by professional tailors. Photos and a short video are found here on the website. Additionally, a recent update received from Fr. Phillip reads as follows:
Hello and greetings. The tailoring project is going on well. Nobody (student) has dropped out. All are coming and seem interested and happy receiving the lessons. I just hope that they be great tailors in the villages. Next month, they will try out the uniforms for the kids. We closed school for the kids last week Thursday (July 28th). It was good to see all parents come to witness the graduating students going to first grade at the nearby grade school. Am happy to see more and more parents taking responsibility and understanding the center’s goodness to the lives of their children.
We hope that this project will empower these local women and their families and allow them to be more economically stable. In the long run, the Centre could also benefit by generating revenue for the facilities to make them economically independent.
We continue to think of Saint Mother Teresa who once said: “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”