Hundreds of people benefit from our vocational training and livelihoods projects in northern Ghana every year – people like Elizabeth who runs a tailoring workshop of the same name. Her story – that of orphan turned trainee turned trainer – illustrates the really positive impact on people’s lives our work is having. We met Elizabeth during a project evaluation in February 2012.
I am very happy with the improvements in my life. I am now able to look after my siblings and I am enjoying better health.
Elizabeth is thriving. For the last two years she has been a master tailor, recruited by one of our partners to help train the current crop of trainees with five apprentices under her wing. This is a happy outcome for a young woman who was forced to leave school at 11. She fell into various low-paid jobs including washing dishes in Kumasi. This was seasonal work and required her to make regular long journeys to and from her home. It was during one such journey that she was approached by community organisation Youth Alive.
After completing Youth Alive’s comprehensive three year vocational training course in 2009, Elizabeth felt confident enough to set up her own tailoring ‘shop’. The first thing that hits you when you arrive at Elizabeth’s workshop near Navrango is that there are no walls and no roof. She has got used to working outside with only the trees for shelter, but realises the limitations this places on her business. She is saving hard and is looking forward to the time she can move into secure business premises.
Elizabeth’s workload is uneven but she gets enough to see her through most weeks. She has built a reputation for quality and good customer care. She does this by charging a fair price and trying to balance her customers’ needs with their budget.
She says, ‘I am very happy with the improvements in my life. I am now able to look after my siblings and I am enjoying better health.’
Among the 27 Singer sewing machines given to Youth Alive were a number of hand machines for St John’s Integrated Secondary School in Navrango, a specialist vocational training centre for students with hearing impairment.
When we visited, the sewing room was a hive of activity and the students’ work shone. But the sewing department isn’t the only one to have benefited. The woodwork department also received a large carpentry training kit.
One of St John’s students proudly displaying her work