Meet some of the women who have passed through the Restoring Hope program!
We have learned that poverty is not only a physical lack of money,
it is a lack of HOPE.
These women have bravely embraced hope, and their lives have been transformed.
Aida's life was very difficult, her father died when she was young, and just like her mother, she was also widowed and needed to find a way to support her family. Sewing became that way, and to this day she is able to feed her children.
She loves the community that the school created in her life, and she stays in constant contact with the other women that graduated with her.
Amelia came to us a broken woman, always on the verge of tears. Her husband died of AIDS and her six children were also very sick and two were close to dying, but she could not afford the treatment they needed.
To look at her now, you would never think she had been so hopeless. Now there is almost always a smile on her face and a quiet joy in her heart as she can provide the medical attention her family needs.
Amelia participated in our teacher's course, and fell in love with sewing. Most of all, she appreciates the independence and dignity it provides, to be able to earn a living and not have to wait on others to help her.
She combined forces with some other Restoring Hope graduates to open a new sewing co-op and teach many more women in their community and pass on what they had learned.
Amelia has three children, and though she is married, her husband is often gone for many months at a time, so she must support the family on her own. Her youngest was born while she was a student in the school, and he spent many lessons strapped to her back or crawling around the classroom!
She is grateful that her sewing makes it possible to have food on the table every day.
After Ana lost her husband, all she could afford was a horrible house that was falling apart. Unfortunately, only the youngest of her six children even tries to help her have a better life. All the others have chosen lives filled with drugs, crime, and prostitution.
Sewing is everything to her, she came in with a great creativity and some experience with sewing her own dresses by hand! She is grateful for a way to support herself now.
Anita's mother died when she was only four years old, leaving her father to care for seven children alone. Life was very hard, and at the age of 13 she resorted to selling her body just to buy food and soap.
Now those desperate days are behind her, as she can provide for her family with dignity. She now has two daughters and loves to sew little dresses for them as well.
Benedita lost her husband in 2001 after five months of sickness. She tried selling vegetables and charcoal for a while, but it was never enough to sustain her family.
When she was invited to the sewing school, she couldn't afford bus fare, but she was was so dedicated to learning how to sew that she would walk over 10 kilometers round trip, every day, to get to the school! Now her life is different, and her three daughters can study.
Cecilia's family arranged for her to marry a man far away that she had never met, and she discovered when she arrived that he was unemployed and very poor. They struggled to survive, she was rejected in every social circle, and she became very bitter.
She is a completely different person now than when she came to the sewing school. Her transformation was so drastic that she says her life is proof that God truly heals people from the inside out.
Cristina's husband had a blood disease that took his life in 2003 and left her to provide for her three sons alone. She had a job for a while, but then lost it and was unemployed for a long time. There were many days she didn't have even a penny in her house. She prayed that God would provide a way to provide for her family, and when she heard about the sewing school she saw it as the answer to her prayers. When she received the first earnings from her work, she knew her life would be different.
When Estrela lost her husband in 2006, her son took care of her. But when he also died in 2016, she was left completely desolate and trying to care for her son's widow and her namesake granddaughter.
Yet even with all these struggles, her life was marked by gratitude, thankfulness, and joy. She spent some time as an assistant teacher in our school and passed on her hope to many other struggling women.
Fatima has a beautiful smile and a sweet spirit. She was part of our first class that focused specifically on training up sewing teachers to plant new schools and pass on this life-changing skill.
Fatima did plant a new sewing school at her church, and has taken great joy in empowering other women.
Francisca's husband got very sick and ended up in the hospital. They discovered too late that he had diabetes, and they were not able to treat him. The youngest of their six children was only four years old at the time. Her life was marked by struggle and hardship for many years, until a missionary found her and introduced her to us at Restoring Hope.
After learning how to sew, her life is much better. Her children are grown now, but she enjoys the independence that her new ability affords.
Isabel has three children, and she is grateful that sewing has made it possible to always have bread on the table.
She loves that the school created a new community for her, and she is still close friends with the other women of her class in 2017. They frequently get together to share tips and ideas with each other!
When Isabel's husband fell ill, she lived too far from the hospital to get him there in time. She was carrying him on her back to the bus stop when he died and left her with four children to care for alone.
Those children are grown, but one of them also passed away so she is now raising her orphaned grandchildren. Life has been hard, but it got just a bit easier when she learned how to sew!
Julia took her sick husband to the hospital in 2000, but he never came back home. She then lived alone with her three children, and tried to make ends meet by buying and selling vegetables at the market. This had very low profits, however, and was never enough to sustain her family.
She joined the sewing school along with another widow from her church who encouraged her not to give up when it was hard. Now she is so grateful for the transformation it provided for her life.
Laura is married, but her husband has been very sick with stomach problems for many years and unable to work or provide for the family. She dreamed for years of learning how to sew, but couldn't afford any other school's fees. Since Restoring Hope is free, it was literally a dream come true! Her life is now full of joy that she never had before.
Now she can provide for her own family and her mother and sister who are both widows.
Lavira is originally from the neighboring country of Zimbabwe, but when the economic crisis there made it impossible for her husband to get a job, they relocated to Mozambique. Then her husband passed away, leaving her with four children to care for. as a foreigner in a strange land
She is an excellent seamstress with a great eye for detail, and she loves to help other women learn what she has mastered.
Luisa's life was very difficult after her husband passed away. She never had any children of her own, but she adopted a little orphan girl. However, she didn't have enough money to send her to school, and they rarely had enough to eat.
She worked very hard to have her own sewing machine, and though she had even more obstacles than most, she is a talented and dedicated seamstress now!
Luisa is a widow with three children. When her husband died she had no skills to help her get a job, so she sold bananas on the street to earn a tiny bit and survive. She was thrilled to hear about a school that was made specifically for widows like her. Now she takes great pride in her work, and people marvel at the transformation in her life.
Her dream is to have several sewing machines and work with others to have a successful tailoring business.
Maria has five children and three grandchildren, and it was always a dream of hers to learn how to sew. She was tired of always having to ask others for money and not having a skill to make her a productive member of her family.
Now she enjoys sewing and is able to live so much better than before. She dreams of owning several sewing machines someday to teach and work with others.
Maria was one of the first students of Restoring Hope, and now she is the head teacher!
She lost her husband to malaria when her two children were very small, and struggled to survive for several years. Sewing changed her life, as the steady income made it possible for her to consistently feed her children and even add on to their house!
Maria suddenly lost the ability to walk when she was 12 years old, possibly due to polio. With therapy she regained some mobility, but only with a walking stick and a heavy limp.
Then she suddenly lost her parents. She married young just so that she would have someone to care for her. Soon after they had one child, her husband suddenly died in his sleep. Though her life was hard, sewing has made a huge difference!
Maria lost her husband in 2008 and was left homeless with seven children. One of those children also passed away shortly thereafter. After many years of hardship, she was thrilled to hear about a free sewing school just for widows like her, and though she lived far away she was a super dedicated student!
She taught her teenage sons how to sew as well, and now her family is known as the best tailors in her community!
Marta lost her husband to an unknown illness, and she used to struggle to meet the needs of her four children.
She was the member of a church for many years, but attests that she grew even more spiritually from the sewing school's intentional discipleship and Bible studies!
She likes to encourage other women that life doesn't end when they are widowed. She tells them that God still has a plan!
Marta is a widow with three children, she sold charcoal in front of her home in the slums (used for cooking here), but the pennies she earned was not enough to sustain them. When her pastor approached her about the opportunity to go to sewing school she was afraid she wouldn't qualify because she didn't even know how to read. We accepted her anyway, and found her very eager to learn. She has many health problems that make other kinds of work difficult, and she is grateful for a way to earn a living.
Olga was tired of having to beg from neighbors to be able to feed her family, and now she doesn't have to! She loves that her life is no longer dependent.
She also attests that being part of the school drastically changed her character. She used to be very crude and pessimistic, but our intentional and uplifting community softened her heart and made her far more gentle and joyful!
Olinda's husband was a fisherman who died at sea when their only child was 10 years old. She got a job as a cook at a restaurant, but the smoke and fumes of the kitchen gave her lung problems. She wanted to switch to a profession that would not harm her health, and she fell in love with sewing.
Now she can care for her family AND breathe, which is a dream come true!
Sandra suffers from a genetic skin condition that worsened when she was an adult. As a result, her husband abandoned her without even saying goodbye, leaving her to care for three children. Because of her appearance, it was very hard to get a job, so she desperately needed an entrepreneurship opportunity.
Today she sews to support her family and also teaches others the skill that changed her life.
Sandra's life was so full of tragedy that she never - ever - smiled. Even her own children were afraid of her since she was always so despondent and sullen.
In the sewing school she found a sisterhood with other women who had passed through similar valleys, yet had managed to come out victorious and able to live with joy. Today Sandra also has a permanent smile on her face and a heart full of hope.
Sandra has four children, and her husband abandoned her for a couple years when finances and their relationship hit hard times. During that season as a single mother, she signed up for the school to make ends meet.
After becoming financially independent and having a change of heart, her husband came back to her and she says their relationship is better than ever.
Teresa lost her husband and three of her six children, yet in spite of these tragedies she maintains her tenacious hope and faith that are evident in her joyful spirit.
After completing the sewing school, her work was in such high demand that she stayed constantly busy with orders from people in her community, and has been able to support herself and the grandchildren she cares for.