Women’s Sewing Cooperative

One of Asante’s most important goal is empowerment. To us, this means helping people with albinism gain access to jobs, training and education so that they can find fulfillment and self-sufficiency.

We worked with our partners “Albino Peacemakers” in Arusha, Tanzania to train women with albinism and mothers of children with albinism to operate a sewing co-operative, where they would gain sewing skills and business experience, and earn an income.  These women often have no way to earn money, and are seen as a burden on their families and society.  Developing marketable skills will help the women become independent, to put their children in school, and provide sun protection items. In addition, it will also serve to transform public attitudes about the abilities of people with albinism.

The primary goal for the sewing cooperative is to create a stable source of income for a highly vulnerable population. This will have wide impact. First, it would ensure that members would be able to work outside of the sun and afford sun-protective clothing, thus greatly reducing the chance of skin cancer. This will increase comfort, health and lifespan.

Second, it will enable them to be economically viable – and valuable – members of their communities. This will hopefully lead to a decrease in the black market trade for body parts: if a person with albinism is more valuable as a business owner than a body part, the attacks will decrease.

Third, it means that more PWA will be able to go to school, as the mothers can pay for supplies and uniforms. Access to education is a major roadblock for PWA, and helps to perpetuate the myths that surround the condition.

Fourth, a successful business owned by PWA reinforces the idea that they are just like everyone else: able to be productive members of society. This fosters successful societal integration. The short-term outcome will be measured by the sewing co-operatives’ ability to train the women of the cooperative, and by their ability to produce an income. The long-term or anecdotal outcomes can only be measured over time.