Rejoice Margaret Nakandi, 50, is a graduate of Fashion and Design from Management Training and Advisory Centre, who has found bigger plans for the vocational skills she acquired. A resident of Gayaza B, Wakiso District, she believes that her skills are not only going to benefit her, but her community as well.
At her home where she does most of her sewing work, finished clothes made from kitenge African fabric are seen hanging on her verandah, plus some jewellery. Nakandi, who graduated last year with a certificate, had mixed feelings about the vocational course.
Previously she worked at the National Agricultural Research Laboratories before her contract expired and she decided to get a skill that would stay with her for long.
“I had a sewing machine at my home and an electric one, but I did not know how to use them at all. So I told myself I was going to hustle with life,” she says. “When I came back from the course after six months, I invested in buying more sewing machines because I had developed an idea of starting a tailoring school in my community,” she explains, mentioning that this came after her experience with how financially feasible the skill was.
“I put the sewing machine on the veranda. I make clothes from here, display them and people buy them. Someone brings a cloth for sewing and within five minutes, you are done with it and get Shs2,000. And since I do not rent and we also have a shop by the roadside with my sister who is also a tailor, there is a lot we can do,” Nakandi says.
Additionally, many women in her neighbourhood are stay home mothers so she wants the school to be a place that women can come to learn tailoring skills.
“If we are to change our communities, we have to change their minds and that is what I did. I want women around me to change their mindset about work and stop waiting for men to be the only providers in the home,” she notes.
Since she has space where she used to rear her chicken, she plans to have the room renovated into a class where she will train tailoring skills. She plans to have classes begin in the afternoon when women are done with their housework, to 5pm. After 5pm, she will have a class for working women who are also interested in learning the skill.
“I have a friend who is an accountant, for example, and she cannot wait to start learning. Good enough, I know how to market the idea and many women are willing to join. In fact, I have a student who has already learnt,” Nakandi notes enthusiastically.
She also plans to go back to school for further studies to develop her competencies in the trade.
Some of the products she will be teaching are high waist skirts, dresses, jewellery making and accessories, among others. At her home she has more than four sewing machines, some electronic and one used for finishing.
“I also want to start mobile tailoring. With this, you just move with your sewing machines to different communities and if someone needs to make a gomesi, a dress or just sewing their clothes, you can do it in the shortest time possible in their locality,” she says.