Hyazint Komba and Tatu Simon
The Tailoring Centre with a Lot to Offer
In the dusty streets of Mbeya City, the weather is changing. Residents are busy adapting to the ending winter, thus embracing the approaching warmer season with new outfits to suit their purpose. To achieve this, all feet are headed towards one direction: the KIHUMBE Incubation Tailoring Centre.
Hyazint Komba and Tatu Simon are the two smiling faces that always greet people who enter the centre. The two are students who once trained as tailors at the same place under a phased-out USAID-funded program for Most Vulnerable Children (MVC). Right now they are back for a year-long incubation program run by KIHUMBE, a local NGO in Mbeya, funded by USAID through DAI Imarisha.
Hyazint who hails from Mbinga in Ruvuma region says that he arrived in Mbeya in 2010 after deciding to look for better life due to the poor conditions that he and his parents lived in. The seventeen year old at the time was lucky to be identified as a Most Vulnerable Child, and therefore enrolled to train as a tailor at KIHUMBE, a course he completed in 2012.
However, he explains that he was not able to go straight into tailoring after completing his course because he did not even have a sewing machine, and the profession often required one to own a sewing machine and start their own business. Even if he had managed to own a machine, he was not capable of making anything big.
“You see, the initial training was more of theories, and we did not dwell too much on the practical part of it. In order to be a tailor, one has to gain on-the-job experience before embarking on his own, and that was not the case,” he says.
Tatu Simon who is Hyazint’s classmate also shares a similar story. The nineteen year old lost her father when she only six months old, and her mother depended on the hand hoe to earn a living. Life was not good, and she was identified as a Most Vulnerable Child and enrolled to train as a tailor at KIHUMBE. She completed in 2011, but because she did not have a sewing machine, she found herself out of business even before she entered.
“I used to go to a local tailor and beg him to let me use his sewing machine,” she recalls. “It was hard because sometimes I actually had to pay him for allowing me to use it. Even if I had a pair of khanga from a customer that I was supposed to bind, I always ended up sharing my earnings with the machine owner.”
After experiencing some tough moments of the tailoring business, Hyazint and Tatu were overjoyed when KIHUMBE recalled them to enrol in the incubation program so that they could gain the experience they so much needed, as well as be able to have their own sewing machines at the end of the program.
They both admit that going back to KIHUMBE has been a boost to their careers, since they have been introduced to different new machines that use the latest technology, and they are now able to make anything: from uniforms to neatly sketched bed sheets and pillow cases.
“Right now we are definitely prepared for the market out there. We no longer have to depend on other tailors in order to make a living, as the machines we use here are of a higher standard, and our experience has grown so much compared to the time we first came back,” they say excitingly.
The KIHUMBE incubation tailoring program has enrolled 30 students who had undergone training at the same centre before, and the current program is aimed at helping them gain experience as well as get accustomed to the latest technology, so that they could be well prepared for the job market.