Meet Patricia Mudiayi, founder of Kwesu

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May 27, 2020

In 2011, Patricia Mudiayi met a woman who was in an abusive relationship. The woman was a refugee who had come to South Africa to make a better life for herself. The woman had a simple dream: to learn to sew. Learning that skill would help her earn an income. From her own savings, Patricia bought a sewing machine for the woman, and taught her to sew. In the process, Patricia’s life changed forever. Today, she runs an organisation called Kwesu, which teaches sewing skills, languages and life skills to refugee women. Kwesu has been working with the GTP to make masks for essential workers in Bellville. Please support the initiative: protect our workers and help these women feed their families.

Every day, the women come to Kwesu for sewing classes. Some even bring their children. The women undergo the training we offer and through that, hopefully, they will be able to find a job or even start their own business.

Life is already difficult. Our centre is a place for women to meet others, but during lockdown they don’t have anywhere to go. Many women get food from our centre, even those who are just passing by on the street. During lockdown, they don’t have access to that food. They have no support, no-one to talk to.

At the same time, our women have learned to make anything. Usually, we would make uniforms, but during this time, all orders have stopped completely. The women haven’t been able to earn money or pay their rent. As managers, we need to make something work, to help them put food on the table. The masks are a real opportunity for us to do that.

I have hope that the GTP and the people of Bellville will continue to provide their support.

The women of Kwesu are poor because they lack opportunity. Since we started teaching, I have seen a transformation in the lives of the women who have worked with us. And yet, they still come and see us. They’re still with us.

We are helping the women financially, providing healing for those who have been broken. I see so much potential in each woman.

There is so much opportunity here – in our factories, shops and workshops. The women we train have the skills and talent. They just need opportunities to show those skills and talents, and to use them to make money, start businesses or earn a salary.

Over the years, we’ve trained 100 women. We charge a nominal fee to cover our own basic expenses. In addition to the sewing training, we also help women to put their CV together. We hold events to help women empower themselves and support each other.

I have another job as a teacher, teaching grade 8, 9 and 10 learners. This is my part-time job. I do it for God. It’s what I do to feel good. The only way I can express my gratitude to those who gave me opportunities, is by giving opportunities to others.

Read more about Kwesu and donate.