EMPOWERMENT Stories

Sizanani – news of what some of the past trainees have accomplished since completing their training.

Sharon Thorne – Administrator, Sizanani.
For me, Sizanani has been a part of my life for nearly 20 years.  Looking back on records, (thank you Norma Cowie for being a good record keeper), I see I started as a part-time Administration Assistant in September 1995 and became a full-time employee from May 1997.  Back then, I was a full-time mom with children starting school/pre-school and Sizanani was my way back into the working world again.  As a young mother, it is scary to start working again – you wonder if you will remember how!  I was absorbed into this project through the friendliness of the staff of both the project and Pinetown Methodist Church, and as my responsibilities increased, I was able to grow in my self-confidence.  I have seen this project grow and watched the transformation of students as they see the fruits of their labours.  I have been excited for them, and for the work that happens here.  As a staff member, I have worried about the finances; been ecstatic when we have received funding, and been humbled to see how God continues to bless this project through the people that are involved in the Management Committee, staff, volunteers and students.  Sizanani has made a huge impact on my life; my view of the community that we work with, and my outlook on the future.  Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity to serve You in this way.

There is a group of past graduates (Bongiwe Zuma, Thoko Ndlovu, Sizakele Zwane and Zanele Mthethwa) who have formed themselves into a co-operative, and they are sharing premises with other small businesses in Clermont, Durban.  This group was able to get an order from the Municipality to sew bags, and they must have made an impression, because 2 of the group were recently invited to fly up to Pretoria for a workshop on business skills.  This is the first time that either of these ladies had been anywhere near an aeroplane, or stayed in a hotel with 3 full meals a day!!  What an experience!  We will be watching this group with interest into the future!

Bongiwe Zuma’s main focus is upholstery.

Thembie Bloch has a small sewing business in Pinetown where she takes on orders for a variety of things.  She is presently up-grading her skills at Sizanani as the pattern making course was not offered when she first trained in mid-2000.

Darly Mweli is making up the clerical shirts for orders that come through Sizanani as well as helping make uniforms for the Womens’ Manyano of the Methodist Church.

Andile Pakisi is very busy designing and making outfits for people who are attending functions. Some of her designs can be seen on our Facebook page – Sizanani, Academy of sewing and design

Constance Ngcemu does all sorts, from outfits to alterations.

Nellie Mkhize upgraded her skills at another school and now has a studio in Durban.

Thandazile Nzama makes school tracksuits.

Senzani Ndwandwe sews for church members.

Bathobile Bhengu owns a hair salon and sews on the side.

Patricia Khumalo attended training at Sizanani in 1998 when we still only offered 3 month courses!  She stayed on at Sizanani for a short while on the Production Team, when Sizanani still made up tracksuits for John Wesley School.  After the Production Team was ‘down-sized’, she found a job with a small business that made curtains and linen.  After a few years, she decided to start her own tracksuit making business from home.  She is still producing tracksuits, shorts and t-shirts for a primary school in the nearby town of Clermont. In 2015, she advised a friend of hers to register with Sizanani.  It will be lovely if they eventually can work side-by-side producing good quality articles for sale to their community.

Zimbili Shezi completed her training at Sizanani in 2013.  During 2015 she applied to participate in a mentorship programme that is run through the local Municipality.  She had to present work that she has completed, a portfolio file, and wear an outfit she had designed when you went through the interview process.  Earlier this year, she heard that she had been accepted on the programme.  One of the most interesting facts is that Zimbili is in her 60’s and was ‘competing’ against much younger candidates.  We look forward to hearing how her mentorship year progresses.  We are holding thumbs that she will be in the running for a trip to Milan at the end of the programme.

Bhekesile Radebe:
Bhekisile (or Nunu as we call her) helped at Sizanani when an order was received for stoles for a choir in USA. She led a small team in the making up of the 80 stoles and because she managed so well, she was asked to come in on other occasions where hospital gowns, linen and curtains were made for a small city hospital ward. She then worked with Lillian Visagie – on the Sizanani premises – helping Lillian with her orders for various hospital articles (patient gowns, doctor’s gowns, etc.) At the beginning of 2011, Lillian found she did not have enough work for her and Nunu, so we found a job for her in a home industry where she makes up clothing orders.

Hlengiwe Myeni and Nomusa Mkhwanazi completed their training in September 2008
They both registered at Fashion Design Schools to further their sewing skill and are enjoying studying fashion design. Both of them have shared with us that they would find it very difficult to cope in their present courses if they hadn’t had the good grounding they received at Sizanani. Tragically, Hlengiwe was recently fatally shot and we mourn her passing.

Christophina Dlamini (now Maphumulo) – completed training in 1997
Christophina worked in the Sizanani Production Team for many years after she completed her training. The production team was closed down at the end of 2005. She was able to secure the orders for the John Wesley School tunics that the girls wear as part of their uniform for a few years, before taking on other work that she does from home.

Purity Gumede:
Completed her training in 1998 and was fortunate to get a job with a couple of ladies who did home decor. She worked with them for many years (as did some other Sizanani students). Eventually the Company closed down and Purity found another job in a factory up in the Waterfall area. However, this job also didn’t last for long and she is currently sewing children’s hats.

Senzani Ndwandwe:
Our top student from 2010, is making a name for herself in the area that she lives in. Her husband is a pastor of a large church in the area, and Senzani has been able to get orders from many of her congregation members for outfits for events as well as for attending church! Senzani has also hosted her niece from northern Zululand for the last 2 years, enabling Khululiwe to attend training at Sizanani too. Khululiwe will be graduating at the end of 2012.

Nobuhle Khumalo:
Completed training at the end of 2011 as our Top Student has been very busy. She has been doing a lot of garments for weddings from wedding gowns to the bridesmaids, etc. She has been able to purchase another sewing machine and Sizanani passed on a donated 2nd hand industrial machine to her.

Balungile Dlamuka:
Also completed training at the end of 2011 lives in an area that does not have a clothing designer. This has meant that she has been very busy making up formal wear for people in the area who are attending weddings or funerals. She has had to be very creative in designing outfits for her customers so that everyone has a different design from each other. It would be awful for two people to go to the same event in similar styles of clothing!

Other:
We have recently heard from some past students who completed their training some time ago, and who are doing sewing orders for people in their community. The one lady, whose husband has been out of work for some time, sews things that she gets her husband to take and sell at pension queues both locally and in the Eastern Cape. Another lady furthered her training at Marianhill Monastery and now makes a lot of the liturgical garments, etc., that various church denominations require.