The STEP class of this year has been a story of new beginnings:
Bukoria had been confined at home and quite sick. She was married with two children and renting, which is a problem in this economy. When she started the STEP program, she wanted to learn and would ask the sewing trainer for help with a question or a technique. While Bukoria´ s skills were growing, she was not used to working with anyone else. She wanted the attention on herself in the group and she would get aggressive when she didn´t get it. When others were laughing, she didn´t like it, she thought that her class colleagues were not on her side. Her selfish focus became quite a problem in the group and came to a head with a public argument. In response, staff spoke with Bukoria and with the others too. Bukoria came back and made a public apology. Her children had explained to her that the others weren´t against her and they helped her to change. The changes happened suddenly. Bukoria prepared three dresses in the incubation phase of the project, and now she offers to help the others. In the beginning, she did not know how to work with a team, but now she never misses a session and even offers extra time to support the OPM staff. Her aggression is gone. Our visiting sewing trainer has found this change remarkably interesting.
Mimosa had had dreams of learning a skill but thought she had lost her chance. She was depressed, with a lot of fear for her kids and husband. Her child had a serious thyroid problem and Mimosa experienced a lot of anxiety, shortness of breath and even panic thinking about her family. She feared what would happen if her child could not continue his medicine. Staff took time to listen to and counsel Mimosa, who really needed to talk. Through this, she found a measure of real peace. Mimosa came to excel in her sewing class. She became the right hand of the group leader. Now, she wants to know what she can do after this STEP incubation group is finished. OPM staff tell her that our door is open, even if the course is over. As it is, Mimosa believes that God gave her a chance to fulfil her dreams through OPM. She wants to go further and learn skills which she could use with us to teach women jewelry and decorations as part of our future training.
Arjeta was anxious day and night with trying to pay bills. She has children and had been separated from her husband for years when her attempts to fix the relationship did not work out. Arjeta had great dressmaking skill, but she was used by friends and others as cheap labor for their sewing repairs. As our staff got to know her, they saw that she had respect amongst the tailoring suppliers. She bought materials and everyone knew her in the shop. She had class and humility. Arjeta´s dream was to open her own business, earn a diploma, be a designer and to have her own bridal fashion event of quality and value. Through OPM, Arjeta had a bridal dress event at one of the city´s prime wedding venues!
“Oh God,” Arjeta says, “You have given us success and surprises. Sometimes, I think I would never have done this. This is a dream come true.”
Arjeta is very humble. She was in tears as we started to plan for the bridal event. Arjeta´s daughter - who also wants to be a designer - tells us that her dream is that her mother will not need to work so hard and not to think about her former husband.
“I am so thankful for what you have done for us,” she says.