When every seam gives a piece of independence

Master dressmaker Celina Kirschmann traveled to Zambia to teach women to sew. In doing so, she paves the way for women to lead independent lives.

By Raffaello Hertkorn

Drawing, cutting, sewing: Zambian women learn simple techniques at school that open up new prospects for the future. – © Private

Many people want to make the world a little better with their actions. Like hardly any other industry, commerce offers the opportunity to do so around the world. Celina Kirschmann, 21, from an early age had a desire to use her skills for the benefit of others. Holzmaden tailor has been teaching women in one since September Educational institution in Zambia and teaches them the skills they need to become self-employed and earn a living.

Best champion with projects abroad

As a child, Kirschmann discovered her passion for sewing and made small projects for friends and family. She made herself known through a friend Kerschensteiner School of Stuttgart watch out. “For me it was the opportunity to turn my hobby into a job,” explains the craftswoman. Within three years, she completed her training as a state-certified dressmaker and stylist and also earned her college entrance qualification. The desire to work abroad was already there after the apprenticeship, but the pandemic prevented the trip. Kirschmann made the most of the situation and was rewarded for her efforts: in the fall of 2021 she was awarded a Best master in the craft of tailoring excellent.

Immerse yourself in a new culture

Celina Kirschmann has always enjoyed passing on her knowledge to others. “I really wanted to help people with my skills and I found out which countries could do it.” He struck gold with the organization of the Operation Mobilization mission: As part of a project, women in Zambia are learning the craft of tailoring. “What attracted me was giving women the skills they need to become more independent.” The project aims to enable women to become self-employed and earn a living by selling clothes to markets or to friends. “They should also be given courage and appreciation, because many are still oppressed by men”.

Celine Kirschmann
Celina Kirschmann in Zambia. – © Private

On September 1, the artisan went to southern Africa. Zambia is known for its diverse wildlife, stunning scenery and spectacular Victoria Falls, but poverty is also high. “At first the country seemed very overwhelming: the infrastructure, the colorful markets and the learning are very different.” The dress code is important: The shoulders and knees must be covered. The so-called are often worn chitengis, long and colorful fabric panels with creative patterns that wrap around the waist. Eating is done with the hands. There are many leaves on the menu, along with tomatoes, onions and often Nshima corn porridge, the national dish.

Simple techniques of great impact

Three Zambian women run the school where Kirschmann as a teacher is working. The requirements of the students are as diverse as the age group, the from 18 until the end of the 1950s. “Some don’t know how to use a ruler, for example.” The project consciously wants to welcome all women and give them the opportunity to learn how to sew. “After the teachers saw that I was a specialist, I was given a lot of responsibilities and was allowed to teach the first lesson by myself.” Classes were challenging at first, but the more she stood in front of the class, the better she understood which topics and focal points are important to women.

In the early hours Kirschmann brought the students simple hand stitching because not all women have a sewing machine. In his classes, he also covers several spots for garments such as burlap bags or aprons. “But we also went deeper into modeling and made skirts, blouses and finally a dress.” It is important to gradually increase the requirements. “The focus is on basic skills: clothes don’t have to be masterpieces.” Upon completion of the training, which begins in February and ends in December, the women complete a week-long internship in a tailor’s shop and get a certificate. “The certificate is highly regarded and women are delighted to finally have something in their hands.”

What particularly attracted me was giving women the skills they need to become more independent. “

Celina Kirschmann, master seamstress

gratitude and appreciation

“The women who work in the project invest an incredible amount of love and time – and do a great job “, says the champion. She was particularly impressed by the joy and appreciation of the students for their work.” I will certainly remember the great gratitude. “She will not forget the beauty of nature and culture either:” in cities and in the markets, life is colorful and lively. “On the other hand, poverty is also noticeable.

“Anyone who is curious and wants to discover something new should go abroad!”, recommends Kirschmann. The craft is especially good for this. In mid-July he will return to Germany. To broaden their knowledge, they will then study textile technology with a focus on sustainability.

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