A documentary is currently in the works about the Reap What You Sew tailoring school established in Malawi, Africa by Dr. Deb Waterbury, founder of Love Everlasting Ministries. Dr. Waterbury recently attended the second graduation of the tailoring school which was filmed as part of the documentary. While there, Dr. Waterbury also visited Mozambique where they are hoping to open a similar school for women in 2019.
The recent graduates in Malawi hope to have as much success as the first graduating class from which eight out of nine women began their own tailoring businesses in their respective villages. Dr. Waterbury said the ninth graduate was pregnant and has been unable to work, but that she believes she will also be able to support her family very soon.
“Malawi is one of the poorest nations in the world, and the women there are often destitute,” says Waterbury. “These women receive no education and are often widowed due to AIDS. There are no department stores in the country so you have to buy clothes from tailors, making this the perfect skill for women to learn and pass on to their children. One of our students from last semester opened up her own storefront in her village and called it ‘Thank You Jesus Tailoring Shop’. I was so glad we were able to interview her while we there for the upcoming film.”
The students at the Reap What You Sew school attend a six-month program focused on tailoring. They receive a sewing machine and supplies, as well as accounting and bookkeeping training by the end of the program. Classes are held five days a week at Agape Life International Church in Blantyre, Malawi. Students are required to pay 500 kwacha (about .70 cents per month) so they are personally invested. And they must maintain an 85% attendance record to stay in the program Most of the school’s expenses— tuition, teacher salaries, sewing machines, fabric, and other necessities— are covered by donations from individuals and companies. Dr. Waterbury says that they have a long waiting list of women, and the need is great.
“We try to choose women who are economically in dire straits, but a large percentage of women in Malawi fall into that category. We like to say, ‘One woman, one business at a time,’ but the truth is, being able to care for their children and extended families is not just changing these women’s lives today, but it is changing the generations yet to come.”
Dr. Waterbury hopes the documentary will shed some light on the plight of these women, and will encourage enough donations to fund several schools in the neediest parts of Africa.
“The people of Africa have such a precious love for God,” says Waterbury. “A revival has been going on throughout the continent for some time now. I want these schools to be a beacon of hope for these women who are praying for a better life for themselves and their children. The people and companies who support our efforts are being the hands and feet of Jesus in a real way. My prayer is that this film will help more people catch the vision we have of offering these women a hand-up, not just a hand-out.”