Nampula, 30 March 2011 - Argentina Teodoro, at 21 years of age, is an extension worker for tailoring, HIV/AIDS and gender issues at the Millennium Village of Lumbo in Northern Mozambique. By making dresses she has generated income for her family for five years.
It was natural for Argentina, who works with women, to be trained to become an extension worker for gender and HIV as well. She meets her “audience” on a daily basis but she also educates, like 19 other Lumbo women, her fellow people, including men, on safe sexual behaviour.
At the tailoring workshop called Corte e Costura (Cutting and Sewing), together with two dozen lady-tailors, Argentina had already acquired information and experience in 2007 and 2008, when there were only three sewing machines available at the Local Development Centre. In 2009, when Lumbo Millennium Village project was launched, the workshop moved into the project that acquired other seven new sewing machines.
Argentina tells us that in the beginning they had a capital of 25,480 Meticais that served for the acquisition of working material, such as capulanas (cotton fabrics for dresses), needles and thread. “I was lucky, since my teacher was Momade Alde, a well-known tailor from Ilha de Moçambique. I couldn’t have a better start.”
“The effort that the lady-tailors put in is admirable”, affirms Argentina who laments, though, the lack of material, thread, scissors, razor blades, hangers, and lubrication oil for the sewing machines. “Due to low income in the beginning, we couldn’t accept new dressmakers into our group”, Argentina says.
In 2010, the officials of the village and the district offered the women of Corte e Costura opportunities to sell their dresses at promotional prices at Sunday fairs organized at Lumbo. The community members were happy to buy affordable clothes but the dressmakers didn’t earn enough for purchasing new materials.
This year, the dressmakers are expecting the MV project to grant a capital of at least 50,000 Meticais, which would enable the buying of materials in large quantities. They are continuing the business at Sunday fairs but with better profits and better hopes for the future.
Part of Argentina’s future dreams is diversifying to bakery products, such as cakes and biscuits made of local manioc or sweet-potato flour. Now she is saving money to buy a pre-paid energy fridge (credelec) for her future bakery. “The market place is already there; either the patio or garden of the Lumbo Millennium Village”, she says.
Maybe next year, we will meet Argentina in Lumbo selling her manioc cakes, delivering HIV leaflets, and telling her story, a proud example of a strong woman in rural Mozambique.
Lumbo, with 8,000 community members, is the second of five Millennium Villages of the country. It was launched on 2007, and is funded by the Government of Portugal.
The Millennium Village project aims at providing effective means of poverty alleviation in five Mozambican communities through specific interventions, relatively small and concrete investments, and with local ownership. The idea is to transform subsistence livelihood into small-scale entrepreneurships.
For further information, kindly see the Millennium Village project page