"We are working to fight against prostitution and HIV/AIDS."

— Mary Mutesi

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Community Vocational Training School

Teaching Vulnerable Women Sewing, Reading & HIV/AIDS Awareness

This team initially identified women's involvement in sex work, and in turn exposure to and lack of knowledge about HIV/AIDS as one of the greatest problems facing their community. In Kinamba, Kigali, many women and girls have been left widowed or orphaned from the genocide and have felt forced into prostitution with little to no education and skills to secure other jobs. One team-member states, "After talking to the women, we have helped them to decide to leave prostitution and change their lives, but they need skills training in order to be able to earn a living without prostitution."

To help vulnerable women earn a sustainable living without exposing themselves to HIV/AIDS through prostitution, the Community Vocational Training School (CVTS) offers training in tailoring, workshops on HIV/AIDS prevention and reproductive health as well as literacy and English classes. The goals of the project, measured through surveys, interviews and home visits, include that every student is able to make clothes on her own, that the hygiene and nutrition of the women improve, that they understand the consequences of HIV/AIDS and how to prevent it by using condoms, that women understand their options for contraception, and that the participants learn to read and write.

Since beginning in 2008, CVTS (formerly known as the Meg Foundation Tailoring School) has been able to open their doors to other vulnerable women including widows, orphans and single mothers in addition to former sex workers. The intensive skills training and health education CVTS provides has given 90 women the ability to achieve sustainable and healthy lives for themselves and their families.

In collaboration with another Global Grassroots team, "Achieving a Better Life", the women learning at the CVTS program have attended theater performances on domestic violence, and a few have started to discuss the issue of abuse with their male partners, informing them that they now understand their rights.

The school is able to generate income to support their ongoing operating costs by selling fabric shopping bags made by the women. One remarkable success is that all of the women from the first graduating class have left prostitution and are able to earn as much money through tailoring contracts as they did through sex work. Some graduates have even formed their own sewing cooperative, allowing them to gain larger contracts and continue to supporting one another. As one former student said, about working with other women: "you learn from each other about love; you feel commitment to each other, and you feel compassion to each other."

Project Details

Community Vocational Training School

Grant Amount: $3200
Team Size: 45 Men & Women
Social Impact: 90 Women & Their Families

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