Building market linkages for women survivors

Sewing for Kapir Kindergarten

We signed our first paid contract in April 2017 after our regional project manager visited the local kindergarten to speak with the school administrator about Sewing Sisters.  After learning about the women’s experiences when ISIS stormed Sinjar and the surrounding villages, the administrator commissioned 100 pieces of children’s school uniforms with 14 of our graduates from the pilot Sewing Sisters training program.  “We have tailors that sew for us but the stories of these women inspire me,” the administrator told us, “I’d really like to give them all of our uniforms to be sewn for the year not only as a business but as a way to help these strong women from our kindergarten.”

The women started the pilot program in November 2016 and finished in March 2017 after four months of training.  This contract was very important to all of us at Lotus Flower and to all the participants in Sewing Sisters as it was the first employment opportunity we were able to establish with a local business partner for our first round of graduates.  It created a foundation between the local market and our program for future opportunities while building trust with our participants.  In addition, the women learned a new, professional skillset that they were able to put into real-world practice very quickly and see the results of their hard work.  Our regional project manager assisted them in finding the appropriate design patterns online and worked with them as they completed their projects.  The women took their responsibilities seriously as they wanted the school to be pleased with the quality of their work. Upon completion, they received 100% of the income, which was split equally among them.

Kawe, one of our first graduates who participated in this contract, has now become one of our Sewing Sisters Trainers.  Originally from Khanasor, she needs to work in order to support her family after leaving everything behind when ISIS attacked her home. “As a trainer for Sewing Sisters, I can help other women learn this skill,” she told us, “It is a reason to think about my life again and not lose hope that one day everything will change to a better condition.”

I have lost many members of my family and every time I remember what happened, my eyes fill with tears.  By participating in Sewing Sisters, I’m very happy as at least I have two hours in the day to get out of the home and enjoy a little bit of my time and spend it with other women who share the same story of suffering as mine.