We noticed there were many girls who simply could not stay in school for a variety of reasons.
- They were needed at home
- They were married young
- Their parents didn’t understand why educating girls mattered
How could we help them to earn a living and contribute to their families?
The first sewing machines, manually operated, were purchased in 2009, and a program was launched to train girls to become tailors in Liboré.
From these small beginnings, there is now a three year course that teaches students the art of design and the techniques of sewing and embroidery.
Each year there is a waiting list to enroll. This 'Cooper Sewing Centre', named in honour of the generous support of the Cooper family in Canada, offers many girls an opportunity to earn a living from a trade.
The Cooper store in the Centre offers tailors in the area a chance to purchase the supplies they may need, as well as give the public an opportunity to purchase items made by the sewing students.
- sewing machine
A Creative Solution
Ousseina Mounkaila and her twin sister went to their first year of Secondary School but did not pass because their primary school education did not prepare them well. They tried repeating the year, studying night and day and still felt like their capacity was not sufficient to pass. So together they made a pact that would allow Ousseina to attend the P4K Cooper Sewing Centre. Ousseina’s sister would attend to the household washing and cleaning until 3pm, while Ousseina attended the P4K Sewing school, and Ousseina would cook lunch and breakfast. Ousseina would sew all of her twin sister’s clothes, and her sister would provide the fabric. And so it was. Near the end of her years of training, a neighbor, named Hassana, who also attended the sewing school, got married and left her sewing machine for Ousseina to use. Both sisters are now thriving.
At the end of their three years, they take an exam that is prepared by the National Sewing Association of the country with which the Cooper Centre is affiliated. Girls who graduate are given a sewing machine on loan, with a year to repay it.