In the Words of Tricia Njobvuyalema: ‘It was like a light bulb had been switched on because I saw an opportunity to welcome a new product in my tailoring portfolio’

Tricia Njobvuyalema is a 31-year-old graduate of Kambwiri Tailoring Training Centre in Salima, central Malawi. Since May 2020, Ines has been making masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in her community. UN Women is supporting a project that aims to increase household income by empowering women and youth with disabilities through textile and garment manufacturing in central Malawi.

Date: Sunday, September 6, 2020

malawi

Tricia Njobvuyalema sewing at her home. Photo: UN Women

With the onset of COVID-19, my life changed. I sew and sell garments from my veranda at home but gradually customers stopped coming. Radios would air messages urging people to stay home, this was very bad for my business. I went from receiving ten to fifteen requests to make or repair clothes to only two orders a week.  This worried me because I have two small children who rely on proceeds from tailoring for food and other basic needs. 

In early June (2020), my former teacher from the tailoring training centre called us back to the centre with exciting news that we would learn how to make masks. I was so happy to learn how to make masks to protect people from COVD-19. After I mastered the craft of making cotton masks, I displayed a few at home. One of my neighbours saw the masks and requested me to make four masks for members of her family.  It was like a light bulb had been switched on because I saw an opportunity to welcome a new product in my tailoring portfolio. 

So far, I have made just over 500 masks which have been sold to community members.  I even received an order from a security company. From the proceeds of my tailoring business I have saved 100,000 Malawian Kwacha ($133) which I plan to use to build my tailoring dream shop.

Upon acquiring these new tailoring skills, I do not even have to worry about where to get food for my children. If it were not for this project, our household income would not have been enough to sustain the family considering how tough life is these days.