Lives are transformed in Mozambique as OM’s Tabitha Project gives local women training in sustainable handiwork skills.
Raquel* is a woman who lives near OM’s ministry center in Musoma village, near the town of Mecula in Mozambique’s Niassa Province. She has a child who has moved away, but no husband. To purchase food for her own survival, Raquel sleeps with men for money. These men leave her feeling empty and hopeless, with enough money to buy only a small amount of food.
Unfortunately, Raquel is not alone in her plight. OM Mozambique’s Tabitha Project was created to assist women like Raquel—vulnerable, young, unmarried women and widows—who are often forced to either sell their bodies or marry against their will (sometimes as young as 12 in Musoma) for survival.
By equipping Christian women who minister in the Musoma village to become sewing instructors, OM Tabitha teaches young women and widows how to sew and make a living from their handiwork. For the elderly widows who are unable to sew, the Tabitha Project strives to sustain these ladies through some of the project’s earnings.
Not only do the women involved in the Tabitha Project receive a new skill, but they also are given a means to improve their situation and a greater measure of independence and security.
Tabitha’s first teacher
After her husband died, Lourdes sold enough cassava (manioc) to buy a sewing machine, thinking that it could be a means to her survival. However, Lourdes did not know how to use her new machine. Every night she prayed that someone would teach her how to sew.
As time passed, Lourdes worked on her sewing skills and was finally able to sew a straight line. After a lot of practice, she was able to sew and do embroidery work. Lourdes became the Tabitha Project’s first instructor. Lourdes’ story represents the heart of the Tabitha Project—empowering women to transform their own situations and communities.
New homes and new hope
Rosa is one of 22 widows OM Mozambique is assisting in Mocuba. After her husband died, Rosa worked on their farm, trying to pay for their five children’s schooling, but her efforts did not leave her with enough money to build them a new home after their old house caved in.
Belita’s family had settled in the Mocuba area due to her husband’s involvement with the military. When he died, she and her children could not return to their original part of the country and struggled to survive. With one of the walls of their home in shambles, Belita worried that the wall would fall in on herself or her kids and injure them.
Celina is a widow with three children. After her husband died, he left them his family’s land, but no house. Furthermore, his family kicked her and the children off of the land, saying it didn’t belong to her anymore.
In all three situations, one of OM Mozambique’s leaders, Antonio Da Gama, became aware of the widows’ plights and brought their needs before OM. Using some of the proceeds of the Tabitha Project, along with other funding, OM built the three widows and their families new homes, blessing them with hope and a fresh start.
“She just doesn’t have luck in getting married,” lamented an older church lady, referring to 26-year-old Otilia. This is a common mindset in Mozambique—the belief that women need to be married at a young age in order to succeed. Otilia has not allowed the sting of these comments to keep her from being a youth leader at her church and from pursuing an independent lifestyle while she works with OM Mozambique’s Tabitha Project.
Otilia is a member of a family with seven children. Her family makes and sells fritters (donuts) for one Metical each (less than three US cents each), as well as dried fish and small bottles of oil, in an attempt to make a living. They also farm peanuts, maize and beans to help feed the family, but these crops haven’t given them much profit.
After graduating from high school, Otilia tried to get into college to study health or education, as teaching is her dream; however, all her attempts have failed. Now her chances of being accepted to study are low, as universities typically accept those younger than age 25.
Thankfully, in 2011 and 2012, Otilia took OM Mozambique and the Tabitha Project up on their offer to teach her how to sew. In 2013, she started her own business making purses and clothes for women. Otilia still volunteers and trains at the Tabitha Project, while sewing from home at other times to keep her personal business going.
She hasn’t yet been able to save much money with her sewing business, as she uses much of her proceeds to support her family’s daily needs. However, Otilia hopes to increase her profits in the future. She now realises that she can be self-employed and independent, embodying the vision of the Tabitha Project.
For more information about OM’s work in Mozambique, visit OM Africa’s website here.