All of the Mozambican women on our team were at one point widowed, abandoned, or living in abject poverty. They deeply identify with the experiences of the sewing school students and provide a testimony of hope.
From Abandoned to Empowered
Nora is from an upper-class Mozambican family, but even that did not guarantee a
life of ease. She was abandoned by her first husband when she was pregnant with her fourth daughter, so
she fully understands the emotional pain that many of the Restoring Hope students have been through.
After several years as a single mother and working as a nurse, she remarried a very godly man who loved
her girls as though they were his own. This makes her story unique, as most stepfathers are not so kind.
They lived and worked in Zimbabwe for 18 years, so she speaks excellent English.
Nora has always had a heart to help those less fortunate than herself, but in 2015 her eyes were particularly opened to the plight of widows in her city. She wanted to help in a lasting way and find a permanent solution to their poverty. She teamed up with Carla to start the Restoring Hope sewing school in September of that year, helping part-time as she could. As the school grew, they were able to hire her full-time in 2019.
Nora visits, interviews, and selects all the incoming students, ensuring that those in greatest need take highest priority. She teaches much of the Bible study and spiritual curriculum of the school, helping the students let go of harmful cultural traditions like witchcraft and learn instead to trust in God fully. She also provides counseling and guidance for all the students to ensure each one has all their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs met.
Nora's four daughters are all grown and married, and she has three grandchildren.
From Hobby to Impact
Carla grew up with many hobbies and crafts, but especially loved sewing. She was
raised in a missions-focused family and caught a passion for making the world a better place at a very
early age. Her family lived in Russia when she was 9-11 years old, and as a young adult she spent many
months in Bangladesh and China as an English teacher. She met her husband, Jon, in university and
shortly after they graduated and married, they found themselves in Mozambique, Africa. They started out
for three years with a relief organization that had lots of orphanages and food distributions, but they
grew increasingly unsatisfied with the short-term results. They went back to the States for a season and
studied more about development work and how to create a lasting impact, and returned to Mozambique in
2014 after founding their own nonprofit called Equip Mozambique. The mission of Equip Mozambique is to
empower local leaders to become agents of systemic transformation, to find broken systems and discover
lasting solutions. You can read more on the Equip Moz website here.
When Carla met Nora in 2015, it was a perfect partnership opportunity. Nora saw the broken systems that kept widows in abject poverty for decades, and wanted to find a permanent solution. Carla realized she could turn her hobby of sewing into an impactful opportunity, and volunteered to teach sewing to any widows Nora felt would benefit from having a marketable skill. Those first few classes were a learning experience for everyone - Carla included! With time and experience, they were able to build a solid sewing school with graduates as the teachers. Now she focuses on administration, partnerships, strategy, marketing, product development, and discipling and developing the full-time team.
Carla and Jon have been in Mozambique for 9 years now and have 3 kids.
From Widowed to Teaching
Maria had a wonderful husband who was a prominent leader in their church, and they
dreamed of having a large family and a secure future. Those dreams were dashed when he passed away
suddenly from malaria after they had been married only a few years. This left her alone with two small
children to care for, and life was not easy. Her church helped as much as they could, but she still
needed regular work and struggled to find it. She was one of the first widows that Nora invited to the
very first sewing school classes, and she showed great talent with sewing and a humble heart willing to
teach others what she had mastered.
After her class graduated, Carla invited her to practice with her more extensively and then Maria became Carla’s teaching assistant for the second term which began in early 2017. By the time we were ready for the third term she became the head teacher while Carla left on maternity leave. Since then she has faithfully taught every class and patiently encourages each student to reach their full potential.
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!
From Outcast to Accepted
Cecilia is from another province in Mozambique, and in 2012 she hopped on a bus to marry a
stranger in Beira that her family had arranged for her, sight unseen. Turns out he did not have a solid
job and they lived in utter poverty for several years. Moreover, since she was from another tribe in
another province, she was rejected and outcast in every social circle she tried to
She started out as a student in Restoring Hope in 2017, and found an accepting community for the first time. Finally, she was in a place where she was loved and encouraged instead of despised and maligned. In the past, people told her she would never amount to anything and she was utterly withdrawn, but now she holds her head high with a smile on her face as she competently supports her family and empowers other outcast women to do the same! We invited her to join the teaching team in 2018, and her infectious joy sets the atmosphere of the whole classroom.
She has two beautiful little girls and is one of the most creative and detail-focused seamstresses we have ever had.
From Survival to Visionary
Flavia is a single mom with a beautiful little girl named Slanny. She worked a variety of
jobs to make ends meet, but survival was always hard. She deeply identifies with the widows and single
mothers who come into the school, and is passionate about providing them with opportunities. She is an
active member of her church and helps work with women's ministries through her small group. Her passion
and vision for making the school better are an essential part of the team.
Flavia joined the Restoring Hope team in 2016, and she runs the administrative logistics such as keeping track of all the ladies' work and paying their wages, finances and bookkeeping, and purchasing materials like our trademark beautiful African fabric.