Last night Annie had the pleasure to serve up some Fairtrade Belfast Brew at a talk organised by one of our chosen charities – Tools For Solidarity. We love these guys on so many levels but mostly for their honest hard work in attempting to eliminate poverty through recycling and reconditioning old, unwanted sewing machines and tools and shipping them off to destinations like Mwanza in Tanzania where they train and support tailors, developing new skills in rural communities and providing a steady income for the households.

Damian Changa Sido Mwanza with Annie

Damian Chang’s from a Small Industry Development Organisation (SIDO) gave a presentation on the work on the ground of Mwanza Sewing and Training Centre (MSTC) and the long-standing relationship they have had with TFS Belfast (celebrating 15 years of a unified and progressive approach to alleviating poverty). So far they have successfully trained 2,100 tailors in the region (95% women), creating a wealth of rural artisans who can now devote around 50% of their time to tailoring and receiving steady income for their families and children’s education (the other 50% of the time would still be devoted to looking after the household, vegetable gardens and animal husbandry).

To assist with the maintenance of the machines, especially in remote rural areas, they also train mechanics in a 1-month intensive course, and send them off with a tool kit and a bicycle. So far, 21 small workshops repairing sewing machines have been established, employing more than 40 people.

Mwanza Sewing and Training Centre also support artisans with disabilities in conjunction with Disability Aid Abroad.

Acquiring new skills:

Female tailor (35 years old) Kwimba District

“Although I have been a tailor for quite some time, I could not know how to make suit but when I got the trainings on dress designing from SIDO-MSTC I started to make suits. Many people are now coming to me for suits. This has really impressed me and helped to improve my income.”

Suki Tea support Tools For Solidarity by sponsoring sewing machines destined for MSTC, Tanzania, a country close to our hearts as Luponde Tea Gardens in the Southern Highlands was our first ever source visit. We are also proud to provide free Fairtrade tea all year for their thirsty international volunteers who work on reconditioning the unwanted old sewing machines and tools in their workshops in Belfast and Downpatrick. Annie also helps TFS out through participating in their Educational for Sustainable Development programme that they run in local primary schools (we focus on how every individual can make a difference and have a positive impact on the world by choosing Fairtrade products).

Tools for Solidarity International-volunteers

TFS struggle to fund the running costs of their workshops (manned mostly by the dedicated local and international volunteers). Their dedication and integrity knows no bounds as a charity that lives by its principles  – you too could support following the link