Overcoming Poverty: A Dream to Feed Her Children

Leena made her way to a nearby tailoring centre, hopeful she would find an avenue to fulfill a dream and help provide for her family of four. Who knows what Leena was thinking as she walked? Maybe she was nervous. Perhaps she fortified her resolve to ask if they would be willing to teach her how to sew. Many times that desire had entered her thoughts and heart, and today she would see if it could become a reality.

Life in Poverty

Leena’s husband, Ahanu, worked as a cleaner on a private bus. Because it was a “low-quality, low-productivity job,” his earnings barely provided for the family’s most essential needs.1 Leena struggled to make sure her husband and two young children ate the recommended three meals a day that would nourish their bodies. And she could hardly ever buy the milk that her second-grader and 2-year-old needed to fuel their bodies and minds with the vitamins and minerals that would keep them healthy and strong.2

woman with sewing machine from GFA World

Leena (not pictured) knew the way out of poverty was learning how to sew.

Her one consolation was that her eldest child, Naomi, could go to school. Naomi probably wouldn’t have been able to get an education if Leena and Ahanu hadn’t enrolled her in GFA World’s child sponsorship program. The program took care of Naomi’s educational needs, supplying all the necessary items for school, such as pencils, notebooks and uniforms, free of charge. The program’s staff also made sure Naomi understood her school lessons, teaching her valuable skills that would help give her a more hopeful future3 —a future Leena wished she could give her children now.

Every step Leena took toward the tailoring centre was for her family.

Seeking Opportunities

Once Leena reached the tailoring centre, hope building within her, she asked the question that had been burning in her heart for some time: Could she come here to learn to sew?

The answer could change her life and her family’s future. If she acquired sewing skills, she could earn extra income that would tremendously help her family. Leena knew it wouldn’t drastically alter the course of her family’s life immediately; it would take time to learn and to become an established tailor. But she also knew she could eventually start her own business and, in time, effectively double or maybe even triple the family’s income. Her children could drink milk. Her husband wouldn’t have to go to work hungry. Her hopes and dreams hinged on the answer to her question.

The answer came: Yes, she could go to the tailoring centre to learn to sew, no problem—hope took flight—but it would cost around $28.

Twenty-eight dollars. The cost was too high for her impoverished family. They needed every penny to go toward their basic survival. Leena nodded her head in understanding and walked back home. Hope shattered.

One More Chance for Hope

At home, Leena returned to taking care of her children the best she knew how with her limited resources. The young, 28-year-old mother was thankful that at least one of them would eat a decent, filling meal five days a week. The staff of GFA World’s child sponsorship program always found ways to make sure her daughter was taken care of. They provided Naomi with nutritious meals, which eased the family’s burden, strengthened the young girl’s body and improved her capacity to learn by alleviating short-term hunger.4

There was still hope for Leena’s daughter.

Tailoring classes offered by GFA workers

Tailoring classes provided by GFA workers, like this one, help women acquire the skills needed to break out of poverty.

One day, a notice circulated from the local GFA workers: They were opening a tailoring course for women seeking to improve their economic standards. Leena felt the familiar drum of hope beating in her heart at the news. Again, the world of dreams took shape in Leena’s mind. The possibilities of a new life for her family were potentially within grasp. All she needed was to learn the skills that would help improve the quality of life for her children.

According to The World Bank, “One third of the working age population in low- and middle-income countries lack the basic skills required to get quality jobs, leaving them unable to achieve their full productive potential and limiting economic investment and growth.”5

Leena, ready to achieve her full productive potential, went to visit the GFA workers offering the tailoring course, eager to discover if she would finally be able to learn how to sew.

Once again she found herself in the familiar position of asking if she could learn how to sew.

Of course, came the reply she longed to hear. Perhaps Leena tempered her emotions, thinking back to the last time she went chasing after her dreams.

How much would the classes cost?

They were free.

Free! It wouldn’t cost Leena’s family a penny. The mother smiled. Hope soared.

Acquiring Skills to Overcome Poverty

Soon Leena was spending two hours every day learning the basic skills of sewing.

She took turns practicing how to thread a needle and hem straight lines on the manual sewing machines with the other women who had enrolled in the class, perhaps with hopes and dreams similar to Leena’s of one day being able to better care for their families.

As the course went on, Leena learned how to measure and cut fabric to create different articles of clothing. She even learned how to measure clients, preparing her to one day own her own business.

With every skill Leena mastered, she grew more and more confident of fulfilling her dreams. After six months, Leena stared at a certificate bearing her name, declaring her achievement in becoming a tailor. Leena had done it. She was equipped with the knowledge and skills she needed to get her family out of poverty; now she needed to use them.

Last Piece of Her Dream

Leena walked to different tailoring shops, asking at each one if they could use some help. They gave her blouses to hem and mend, earning her a few cents for each one she completed.

How nice it would be, Leena thought one day, if I had my own sewing machine. Then I could earn more and truly meet my children’s needs.

Maybe deep in Leena’s heart she said a silent prayer for a sewing machine to the God she had learned about through the tailoring class. The God who loved her and had created her knew the desire in her heart to take care of her family—it was the same as His—and He wanted to surprise her.

One day Leena received notice that there would be a gift distribution at Naomi’s Bridge of Hope centre, and she was asked to attend. There, the final piece to Leena’s dream came true: She received a sewing machine.

“I thank … the leaders [of this ministry] for this wonderful help,” Leena said. “I hope that [it] … wipes the tears of many needy people.”

Now Leena has a new hope for her family, especially for her children’s future.

Fulfill Someone’s Dream

The gift of a sewing machine—and the skills to use that gift—made a world of difference in Leena’s life. She knew the way out of poverty but was only able to pursue that path when others came alongside her to help.

There are many other parents like Leena who are looking for a way out of poverty. They see their children’s suffering and want to provide a better life for them—if only they could.

sewing machines help overcome poverty

Sewing machines are simple and effective income-generating tools that provide women—and men—with the means to take care of their families.

Sewing machines are simple tools that give people a way to build an income that will help put food on the table and get children through school. You can be part of fulfilling someone’s dream of breaking out of poverty by giving toward sewing machines.

Help Transform Communities through GFA World

*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are GFA stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.

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