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Vocational inclusion: Talented seamstress trains other people with disabilities


In Niger, Humanity & Inclusion helps young women with disabilities find employment. Badariya, a talented seamstress, is an apprentice turned trainer.

A young woman wearing a yellow veil sits at a table, sewing on her machine.

A young woman with disabilities learns to sew at a vocational inclusion workshop organised by HI in Maradi, Niger. | © J. Labeur / HI

In Maradi, Niger, HI supports people with disabilities with socio-economic inclusion. Through workshops and training courses, HI helps them to improve their skills in order to find a job. Badariya Issoufou, a former sewing apprentice who is now a trainer, is a real success story!

Badariya Issoufou, seamstress and trainer © J. Labeur / HIWhen she was just 11, Badariya went to school as usual. One morning was drawing to a close when she suddenly felt dizzy and fainted. The young girl was rushed to hospital where she was diagnosed with meningitis. She was in the hospital for several weeks. When she was finally discharged, little Badariya had lost her hearing. Many years later, the now 32-year-old looks back:

“After my illness, I went through some very difficult times due to my hearing loss and because I was searching for some solace. I dropped out of school, got married and became the mother of a little boy at the age of 19. At that time, I devoted my whole life to my home. But sadly, my husband gave in to the relentless badgering of his family who didn't want a disabled daughter-in-law, and divorced me.”

After her divorce, Badariya wanted to resume some of the projects she had set aside. When she dropped out of school, her grandmother taught her how to sew. As she loved sewing, she decided that it was now time to do some training to perfect her skills. In 2018, with the support of HI, she took a six-month training course at the vocational training center in Maradi.

"After this practical training, I set up my sewing workshop with a single machine, donated by HI. Shortly after setting up, I took on three young apprentices, local girls with hearing disabilities. They paid me $4 a week for the apprenticeship and with this money, I bought fabric to make little dresses that I sold in the neighborhood for between $9 and $11 each," explains Badariya.

Sharing knowledge

Badariya facilitating a sewing and knitting workshop organised by HI. © J. Labeur / HIThanks to her talent for sewing, Badariya constantly attracts new customers. Today, she is a talented professional with a dozen sewing machines in her workshop, acquired with income from her activities.

Badariya takes great pleasure in training people, with or without disabilities, and that's why her sewing workshop is always full of people happy to learn with her. In 2020, HI asked her to train 10 young apprentices with disabilities in sewing and knitting as part of a socio-economic inclusion project for people with disabilities in Maradi. The training was a success and the partnership will be renewed.

HI continues to provide Badariya with support in the form of entrepreneurship training courses: business management, credit access, marketing and communication, and more. She shares her experience with other entrepreneurs and applies the good practices she picks up from others. These training courses are also an opportunity for her to extend her network and acquire new partners and customers.

Giving meaning to her work

Young girls learning to sew in a workshop run by Badariya. © J. Labeur / HIThanks to her hard work and determination, Badariya has carved out a place for herself in her community. Her life is busy, shared between her passion for her work and her love for her son, Aboubacar, who is now 10. Badariya teaches him to love and develop his talents, particularly the art of sewing. Aboubacar sometimes helps her by acting as an interpreter to communicate with those around her or with her customers. Even with these accomplishments, the young woman still has big ambitions:

"In the future, my dream is to open a sewing and knitting school with full-time employees and modern machines. I want to give other girls with disabilities a taste for this profession and play an active part in my country's economic development."

HI's socio-economic inclusion and inclusive education project in Maradi is made possible thanks to funding from the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NORAD and UNICEF. It provides guidance and training for young people with disabilities so they can join the workforce. The project has already informed 260 employers about how to welcome people with disabilities to their staff and trained 100 instructors from 10 vocational training centers in disability issues. Some 50,000 parents and community members have also been informed and trained in disability and inclusive education.

Date published: 06/05/23


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