Developing 'Tabithas'

Rebecca Rempel | Zambia

“I am proud of who I am today,” said Agatha. “When my husband's button falls off I can get a thread and sew it back on. When [my children's] dresses or pants are torn, I can sew them with my own hands because I know how.”

Agatha is one of six women who meet together as part of OM Zambia’s Tabitha Skills and Development. Meeting twice a week, the ladies from different communities within Kabwe, Zambia, are learning various skills, including sewing, tailoring, embroidery, beading, knitting and cooking.

Hearing about the programme from a friend, Agatha was excited to sign up. A mother of five, she had the desire to learn how to sew, but she did not have the resources.

“Now when I am at home, I always play with my material, needles and buttons; that's what I do,” Agatha smiled. “I'm always with my material, learning. Practicing.

“I was a person who didn't know anything. I didn't how to sew, or cut, or about the Bible. I thank [Tabitha] for what they have done in my life. I've learnt a lot,” continued Agatha. “I appreciate our teacher, Pharen. She's a good teacher and has taught me many things that I will not forget in my life.”

Pharen Mulusa, a Tabitha team member, teaches the ladies different skills and is passionate about the ministry.

“[Tabitha] is in my heart and upon my heart,” Pharen said. “I've got a heart for children, for women and for the vulnerable. I look at my life and see what the Lord has done and [want to see] the same in the lives of other women.”

One of the goals of Tabitha is to empower not just one woman, but a whole community through that one woman.

“We believe that the ladies we are teaching will go to different places and be able to teach,” explained Pharen. “Our key is them. When we have them as our key, and release that key into the community it will open doors.”

Agatha has already caught that vision.

“I am a very happy woman,” she said. “I will go into the communities to teach those ladies who don't know anything. I will teach them what I have been taught. I will take these skills to my friends so that they can be skilled women, not women who just stay at home. I want them to be like I am today.”

The Tabitha Skills and Development team arrived in Zambia in 2013 to begin the project with the intention of making it sustainable before leaving it in the hands of a local team and moving to another African country to replicate the project.

Previous to this year the classes were much bigger, containing up to 40 women. The training team realised that this was too big of a number, and not everyone was getting the attention and direction she needed. After changing their curriculum, Tabitha selected six ladies to train and develop this year’s intake.

The jewelry, clothing, placemats, blankets and pillowcases the ladies make are sold to visitors and at the annual OM Love Africa conference. One day they hope to export to the United States.

All of the designs at Tabitha are originals.

“(The team) sat and asked God to put ideas in us. ‘God help us design, to think, and even just put the beads together.’ We prayed about it as a team and designed the necklaces, bracelets and earrings. The ideas all came from God,” said Pharen.

Why the name Tabitha?

“Looking at the Bible, Tabitha (also called Dorcas) was a servant of God,” said Pharen. “She was making garments and giving them to the poor and vulnerable. She was bringing hope to the lives of people. She made the naked to be dressed.

“When she died people came, mourning, crying for her, saying, 'God bring her back to life because of what she did in our lives.' Peter prayed and God brought her back to life.

“We decided to take the title of ‘Tabitha’ because we believe that every woman in this ministry will be a 'Tabitha', bringing change to the community and giving hope to the hopeless.”

Tabitha Skills and Development in Kabwe, Zambia, is focused on empowering, restoring hope and equipping vulnerable and marginalised women through skills training. To learn more about Tabitha check them out on Facebook.

Published: Thursday, 19 November 2015
Credit: Rebecca Rempel
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