As you will probably be aware the Mwanza Sewing and Training Centre was destroyed by fire in July of 2013. The fire destroyed almost all of the inventory of sewing machines as well as all of the office equipment. Thankfully the enthusiasm and commitment of all the staff of the MSTC was undaunted and the building that housed the MSTC has been rebuilt – all that was needed was replacement inventory.
With that in mind we here at TFS worked liked dervishes to put together a shipment that was dispatched in October. The shipment contained 370 sewing machines, 10 knitting machines, 6 industrial machines, 35 treadle tops and a full consignment of office equipment. The shipment arrived at the end of December.
The job is not yet finished but thanks to everyones commitment and hard work, potential castastrophe has been averted. As ever, the work continues.
We were shocked and deeply saddened to receive the news of the sudden death of Natania on Saturday 25 January.
Natania first contacted us in December 2010 asking about becoming a volunteer. From the off her enthusiasm, energy and commitment were inspiring. She started one afternoon a week but very soon she was in the workshop every day.
At first she took her time to learn the skills of tool refurbishment but it was clear for all to see how much she was excited by what she was doing. She developed her skills rapidly and became adept at refurbishing all kinds of tools and machinery – in her last week with us she had started to dismantle a Pillar Drill! She even became adept at refurbishing sewing machines – one of our very few volunteers to learn both skill sets.
However Natania brought much more to the workshop than her superb manual skills. She was great with people and provided support and empathy to the other volunteers. She particularly demonstrated this when she worked with the school children from Ardmore School. They responded really well to how Natania related to them – sharing her own enthusiasm and interest to inspire them. Working with young people became something of a passion for Natania and led her to undertake a youth course in Belfast.
Natania had an amazing singing voice and kindly performed a solo spot at a benefit night when Jane – the manager of the MSTC – visited us in November 2012. I remember getting the pints in to calm her nerves but she didn’t need them. She was a pure natural. All who were there will remember the beauty and power of her voice. Here is her singing Hallelujah.
Her family are compiling a CD of her songs and hope to use it to raise funds for PIPS – a local charity supporting families that have been affected by suicide. We will let people know about the launch of the CD.
The workshop in Downpatrick is there as a space for people to come together, to work helping others and to support one another. Natania represents all that is good about what we try to do. The workshop and everyone who goes there will miss her……
Six months after she started at Tools Natania was interviewed by the local paper about why she had taken the step to become a volunteer. It is fitting to finish with her words of inspiration and hope…
“I volunteer as it feels so good to know that what I do can help provide a new lease of life for people that otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to change their lives on their own.
The highlight of my volunteering to date has been meeting the people I work with – from the local people to the visitors from other countries… I have made new friends and had a lot of good times.”
Her family create a memorial website for Natania for anyone who wants to say a few words. Click here to see it.
Filling a container is a special moment for all the volunteers, not only because of the hard work involved. It’s during these days that you get to see the work of a whole year. All the different activities carried on by the volunteers from building the boxes to refurbishing the sewing machines come together in a 20 foot container.
On October the 24th 2013, TFS sent its 8th container to the Mwanza Sewing and Training Centre in Tanzania. This was the latest of nine containers – one went to Uganda – to be sent out to our partners.
The container left Belfast with 370 sewing machines, including knitting machines and a leather working machine.
Unlike the previous ones this shipment has been decided and planned in a very short time. At the beginning of July TFS has been hit by the news that a fire burn down the MSTC workshop in Tanzania. Most of the stock of sewing machines and all the workshop equipment were lost in one night. After the shock TFS decided to supply MSTC with another container of sewing machines and equipment to fit out the workshop that in the meanwhile has been rebuilt. This will enable the centre to continue to provide sewing machines and deliver the training that has already been scheduled.
In four month the volunteers working in TFS workshops in Belfast, Downpatrick and Camphill Community in Mourne Grange prepared and organised the items needed for the shipment.
The container was filled in Belfast during four days of hard work under pouring rain. It is expected to arrive in Mwanza by the end of December.
Once again none of this would have been possible without the work of all the volunteers who put all their energy and effort in getting everything ready on time.
MSTC has been operating for 6 years with the support of TFS. Acknowledging the value of MSTC work in supporting tailors and artisans in the lake districts of Tanzania, TFS is now looking to renovate the partnership with the centre.
With MSTC and another project hopefully starting next year where will container n° 10 be sent to?