Why we do it
There are so many reasons we do what we do, but ultimately it is to see individual's, families and communities transformed by livelihood creation through the gift of tools.
Below are two stories of transformation. If you choose to volunteer with us, this is what your time and skills will be achieving.
Meet the tailoring group at Mindset Development Organisation
Mindset is TWAMs partner in Uganda. They receive our containers full of tools, distribute them to applicants and support all aspects of our work in Uganda. You will find them on a busy road linking the two cities of Entebbe and Kampala. Mindset was founded by the wonderful Maureen Mugisha to help vulnerable young women escape from poverty. Some are vulnerable because they have lost their parents, others because they have been forced to drop out of school for lack of money to pay fees. Without education or skill their futures are perilous.
Behind the office is one of the most beautiful containers you will ever see, painted green and with a tiled roof and windows. Inside is the Mindset tailoring workshop filled with sewing machines and materials supplied by Tools with a Mission.
The container is filled with desks and sewing machines and sitting at each one is a trainee. One of trainees is Janet (pictured above) who comes from Entebbe. She says:
"A friend told me about Mindset so I went to enquire. I wanted to learn tailoring.
My Mum is a tailor and she inspired me. I will set up my own business.
I stopped school in primary because my Mum could not afford the fees.
This course makes all the difference to me."
Janet is very fortunate to have a supportive parent. Tailors working in poor communities make very little money despite working 10-12 hours a day. Janet's Mum could not have afforded to send her to learn tailoring, but will hopefully be able to support Janet as she starts out with her own machine. At the end of the course every student is given their own machine. Without this gift they would have no hope of buying a machine for themselves.
Namugwana (pictured above) is another of the students with a lovely smile. Ironically she is illustrating, through her t-shirt, one of the main challenges facing community tailors; the import of cheap secondhand clothes from the West. For many Africans the availability of secondhand clothes is a cheap and very welcome opportunity to buy good quality clothes at a price they can afford. But for community tailors it is a market they find it increasingly hard to compete with. But she will certainly try. Namugwana tells us:
"My mother told me about Mindset. Mindset is good, I was interested
in tailoring and my mum knew I was interested but we could not afford fees.
Mindset is good because we don't have to pay like most places, and we are
given materials and help. When I leave Mindset I will help my
mum and brothers. I will help pay my younger brothers' school fees and
make their uniforms. I have two brothers and two older sisters."
It is inspiring to hear that Namugwana wants to share her newly found skills and sewing machine with her family. There is no doubt she will help pay for her younger brothers' school fees and in so doing will contribute to the transformation of their lives and future job opportunities.
Janet and Namugwana beautifully illustrate the impact TWAM tools can have when used to support organisations such as Mindset. Thanks to the gift of unwanted sewing machines, donated by kind people across the UK, collected by our team of dedicated local volunteer collectors and then lovingly and skillfully refurbished by our volunteers in our Refurbishment Centres, the lives of Janet and Namugwana promise to be so different from what they expected. But, much more than this, the promise extends to their families too.
Meet the URICT Orphanage Carpentry Workshop
Several miles from any main road, down dusty tracks you will come across the very impressive compound of the URICT Orphanage. It consists of a six classroom school, dormitories for the children, a farm with animals and crops to feed the children and support the upkeep of the school. Around the side is a skills centre teaching practical skills to the children, while employing teenagers, and as an important by product making the furniture for the orphanage.
Inside are two young men, Andrew and Alex, both orphans who have completed their education, but stayed on to volunteer to teach the children carpentry and make much needed furniture. When asked why they volunteer, they both say without hesitation:
“It is ingrained in our hearts to help.”
Alex (pictured below) continues:
“I completed a carpentry course at an institute, and then decided to
volunteer in the carpentry workshop at URICT. I have come here to
teach the children to make furniture. We make tables and
chairs for the school and orphanage and other furniture to sell.
What we sell raises money for the school and helps me buy food.
After school local people come and I teach them too.
I wanted to come and help here as it is ingrained in my heart to help,
because I grew up as an orphan, so if I can help other orphans it
will be good for them. There is stigma in being an orphan and I want
to change that. Education is very hard to complete as an orphan,
so I have to help where I can. I will stay and help URICT as long as
they need me and then if God wishes I want to get a diploma in
carpentry. I told Andrew about this project, because he is my friend
and I invited him to come, so he too would have a better life.”
There is no greater recommendation than for one of the beneficiaries to tell his friend that he needs to come too. We’ll let Andrew (pictured below) continue the story:
“Alex told me about the project and I decided to join because
I am an orphan too and no one helps me. Even my auntie would not
help me when I was starving. I knew I had nothing to do
and must organise myself to achieve anything. There was a man
in my village who did carpentry and I saw how he worked with
wood and how his business expanded and helped lots of people.
I wanted to do the same. I feel in my soul that carpentry is for me.
It hurts me to hear about the orphans and I wanted to help them.
When I finish my year here, I do not want to stop helping and
want to stay here to help the project grow and help more orphans.”
One of the great joys for us, is that TWAM tool kits don’t just help the projects they are sent to, but very often the people who work and volunteer in the projects. They too benefit as their greatest desire is to serve others and to give something back to the community. It is such a privilege to support Alex and Andrew who have suffered so much, but in response don’t want not to gain for themselves but to give to others.
Your volunteering with us, will support others like Andrew and Alex to volunteer to see lives transformed through tools.
There are many other inspiring stories on our main website twam.uk under the 'where we work' tab