Mike and I wanted to do something to enrich the lives of children in the village where Mike grew up. Our first try was a child sponsorship program. Through many years of trial and error, we came to believe that the best help for the village would be jobs for the parents. When we learned that there were a handful of trained seamstresses in the village who didn't have the funds to buy the materials needed to use their skill, we decided to commission them to sew our first batch of dresses.
Mike went to Uganda for a summer to start the project. It was a mistake-riddled yet joyful learning experience. Over the course of the summer, dozens of women came asking to be trained in sewing, with many of them even hanging around the shop and helping (with no pay) hoping to learn by watching. With this development, our vision shifted.
We realized we were in a position to have a greater impact on job security by using our facility as a training center rather than a dedicated garment production line. After that summer, a few of the original seamstresses we hired stayed on as instructors. They teach courses in sewing that are offered at a low cost. In addition to the standard tailoring curriculum, we have a heavy focus on self-employment skills, such as negotiating contracts, marketing, and budgeting. Our hope is that our grads can gain the skills and confidence for a long prosperous career.
In the year since Acorn Village Academy began sewing classes, local experts of other disciplines have joined our team. Currently, a typical day consists of sewing classes, construction classes, and cosmetology classes.
While we are encouraged by and proud of the little community that has grown from our acorn of an idea, we're certain that the best is yet to come. Thank you for being here and reading about our story. If you have ideas or suggestions that could maximize impact for this community we dearly love, please share them with us! We would love to hear from you.