She walks shyly out of her room in a grey dress, looking at her feet more than at the people waiting for her. She sits down, a soft smile brightening her face. The audience coos over her dress, praising her workmanship.
She touches clothing on the table softly, drawing her finger along the seam she carefully sewed. Tamara* looks over her work and then picks up her current project – a child’s skirt with colorful stripes. She takes a deep breath and begins to sew.
Eighteen-year old Tamara has lived at a Back2Back-partnering children’s home since the 2010 earthquake devastated Port au Prince, Haiti. Isaiah, the home’s director, founded the children’s home when 16 of the 17 children currently living there were orphaned as a result of the unexpected natural disaster.
Tamara, although shy, has always been a natural leader among the children in the home. She is the oldest girl and consistently looks out for others. She is quick to assist caregivers and, as she grows more confident in herself, has begun to consider her future and talks to the other children about theirs.
Village life in Haiti can be difficult to navigate and strenuous when considering beyond the immediate future. Children often leave school in 9th grade, hoping to find work and help their families with household expenses. The support of staff, caregivers, and sponsors has given Tamara, and girls like her, freedom to truly consider their future. It was a year and a half ago when Tamara first asked about sewing lessons.
“When I see people with nice clothes, I recognize how beautiful they are and I think, ‘I could learn how to sew and make beautiful things myself!’” shares Tamara
Isaiah and Back2Back Haiti director, Jeff Hickman, were excited at her expressed interest.
“I was thrilled she wanted to learn a practical skill,” shares Jeff. “This was a need we could meet and were happy to facilitate.”
A local seamstress began coming to the home every Saturday. Tamara was taught the basics of sewing.
“I started with just my hands, needle, and thread,” shares Tamara. “We’ve recently added a machine, but I feel more comfortable using my hands for now.”
She spoke softly, but animated, across the table. Moving her hands quickly, she explained the process of creating clothing, “We start by sketching the outfit, then we cut the cloth, and then we sew.”
Tamara has made a grey, sleeveless dress, a skirt, and a top. The young girl, still learning how to create quality clothing, exudes a confidence, as she explains the process and shows her work to visiting guests. As she improves her sewing skills, the people around her can see a future blossom in light of her interest.
“Cultivating this craft – and continuing to do so – will help her develop a skillset employable in Haiti,” shares Jeff Hickman. “Whether she does her own work or does it for someone else, sewing is a valuable skill.”
The Haiti school system requires each student to wear a uniform in order to attend school. A skill like sewing will create opportunity to earn money and forge exciting ventures in Tamara’s future.
Tamara puts the skirt down on the table and takes a breath. “I am excited at the possibility of meeting people’s needs. When I think about my future, I hope to open my own shop; I would love to be able to make clothes for men, women, and children. I want to be able to say, when people ask me to make something, ‘I will do it. I will be proud to do it.’ I know God is the only one who gives gifts. I talk to my God, I ask Him for help, and He answers.”
Tamara gets up from the table and walks to her room. As she holds the clothing she’s made in her hands, all can see a future take form. They see a future with intention and goals for a young girl who had the courage to step forward and name a dream.
It is with great pleasure and excitement Back2Back shares that Tamara has been accepted to GoEx Transitions Academy. This two-year program will allow her to perfect her sewing craft, as well as take classes in math, French, English, and Bible. Please join us in praise and prayer as Tamara takes the next step toward her future.
Watch this video to learn more about Tamara’s story.