In 2015, LDS Charities donated sewing machines, tables, and supplies to Soweto Baptist School in Nairobi, Kenya. The school, which opened in 1995, is located in the Kibera slums, where more than one million people are living in poverty. The school’s day-to-day operations are organized by Pastor Evans and his wife, Rose.
This year the school has 395 students, all between the ages of 3 and 24. The age range is so broad because Soweto Baptist School allows its students to attend until they pass their final exams. Many students don’t pass by the time they are 18 because they have to drop out of school, sometimes for years, to help their families make ends meet.
When LDS Charities began working with Pastor Evans, he expressed his concern for the number of girls who miss school each month because they lack feminine hygiene products. To fill the need in a sustainable way, LDS Charities offered to donate sewing machines and feminine hygiene patterns for the students to use. LDS Charities also donated desks to the school to improve the learning environment.
In addition to sewing feminine hygiene products, the students in the program have begun sewing school uniforms and clothing for less-fortunate pupils. The students have done so well that other schools in the area are paying them to make their uniforms. The students use the money they earn from these sewing projects to pay for the school supplies they need.
“Learning this trade is what will help them get a job sewing,” says Kaelene Petersen, an LDS Charities representative. “Just learning a skill will help them to become self-reliant.”