By Nontobeko Mkhwanazi
The Crescent of Hope Sewing project in Mayville, Durban is changing lives by equipping people from different races, ages and religions with sewing and entrepreneurial skills to alleviate poverty.
The project started in 2009, when Hajira Omar, a fashion designer, saw sewing as a tool to alleviate poverty. She then dedicated her expertise in teaching a small group of people to sew, and many of the participants went on to start small businesses to feed their families.
Hajra Omar’s idea was so successful, she partnered with humanitarians, AK Lockhat and Ghora Albi to expand the project into a fully-fledged centre – and with their help, Crescent of Hope was born. The project has since then produced over a hundred certified tailors.
Nafisa Mbebe, a sewing teacher at the centre, said most of those who enrol in the sewing classes were struggling to make ends meet. The centre was giving the participants an opportunity to be financially independent.
Pretty Dlamini (38), a student at the centre says she had learnt quite a lot and she is happy that she can generate her own income from the clothes she sews at the centre. “I have learnt how to sew different things and be able to sell these clothes and be able to feed my family from the money I get. The centre is a welcoming place because you are not treated less or more based on your level of education. We all share the same goal which is to better our lives.”
Nombulelo Skwebela (47), a student at the centre, said she is thankful to her teacher Mbebe, for showing her patience and giving her hope and something to build on. “One day I wish to open my own boutique and have my own kiddies clothing brand.”
Another student, Zethu Shangase (23), said the centre had given her the opportunity to have a dream which she will one day achieve. “The certificate that I will obtain will open doors for me to become a fashion designer.”
AK Lockhat, told Al Qalam that there are plans in the pipeline to introduce more exciting and educational programmes. “We aim to introduce educational programmes such as maths and English classes, sustenance farming and Islamic education. The whole idea is to create a society which is equipped with knowledge and skills so as to eradicate socio-economic issues such as poverty and unemployment. Further to that, we apply Islamic principles in helping the needy, irrespective of their race, religion or gender so we can inspire the new generation in also practising this principle,” he added.