Changing Times – Kibera – Kenya
I paid close attention to the teacher as she cut long lengths of fabric and laid it out for one of her students. That day I observed and learned the basics of sewing a quilt. The teacher estimated that if she was sewing, it would take about two days for the quilt to be complete. Since her student was taking charge of it as her own project, it could take over a week because she says the students do not dedicate as much time to the projects. They get bored, run off to do other things and socialize. Eventually, she hopes they learn that the more dedicated they are to the project, the more they can complete and the more money they will be able to make. But, right now the girls learning the sewing are just out of eighth grade and are thinking and waiting more on getting in to high school, not completely convinced that this is a skill they need to refine just yet. After test scores come in, or they realize their family cannot afford to send them, the students may change their minds.
While the student works on a few squares of the quilt, the teacher is working on school uniforms for the primary school students. She charges 500ksh per dress or pants. The cost of the fabric is 240 ksh. She can sew three pants or dresses in one day. That is a profit of 780ksh (roughly $9) each day IF she has that many orders, which she usually does not on a consistent basis. Sometimes she only has one uniform order to complete per day. Sometimes, there are children that can not afford to pay, those without parents to pay for them. Then, she charges nothing.