Dave & Kathy visited our dress-making school at Gyetiase earlier this month. Everybody was working hard and there was a happy atmosphere, with the apprentices showing great respect for their teacher and trainer, Kofi. Many of them are single parents, and some left JHS prematurely, which makes it very important for them to gain accreditation.
Kofi takes ten women, aged between 18 and 30 for a three year training. During that time they learn to design and make shirts, trousers and shorts for men, dresses and blouses for women, and school uniforms.
Apprentices routinely arrive at 7.30am for an 8am start. They use electric machines (from John Lewis!) but during power cuts they have recourse to hard-operated sewing machines. They use traditional Ashanti cloth from the local markets to make commissioned garments.
They have an ambitious motto: ‘Clothing for Africa and Beyond,’ and many Ashanti volunteers take the opportunity to have clothes made for them.
The Disabled Association report that the Centre we built for them last year in Nsuta has led to a considerable improvement to their status in society. What’s more, a donor has just offered to fund a computer room for them, so those who are literate will soon be able earn a bit of money writing letters for those who aren’t, or as an internet cafe.
We told the local authority about this, and asked for their cooperation in improving the lives of the disabled in the area. Their headquarters is just a stone’s throw from the Centre. In response, they promised to provide a free computer trainer, and to contract all their printing to the Association, provided we could provide two big printers. They also said that in a year or two they find a job for a Disabled Association member, provided there was one with the appropriate education – which is very likely.
So things are looking up for this particular Disabled Association. We’ll do our best to make sure they go on that way.
Our principal patron, Keir Starmer MP, dropped in last week on the stall we were running at the Camden Christmas Market. As you can see, Martha taught him how to play oware, and we were joined by other well-wishers. What a good way to start Christmas.