Sr. Justina establishes a small sewing center, providing jobs to the poor in her community
I am indebted and grateful to ASEC for establishing the SLDI program to train and empower African sisters to make our ministries better. The skills I acquired from SLDI program helped me to develop myself and equally be better in my ministry.
Sr. Justina Ijeoma Elom is a member of the Sisters of Jesus the Good Shepherd (SJGS), Abakaliki congregation.
“Bloom wherever you are planted” is an energizing phrase that helped me to harvest much fruit amidst the difficulties like financial hardship or personality conflicts. We can only cope and make positive changes in our world when we are confident about our own ability to make a difference.
After the first workshop of SLDI program in 2007, we were assigned the task of passing on our knowledge to others. The skills I acquired from SLDI program helped me to develop myself and equally be better in my ministry. So, with the consent of the Mother General of SJGS – late Sr. Mary Oluka, I established a small sewing center to employ the poor. I planned to teach them to harness their resources, work together, and make their future brighter.
I should mention that I don't know how to sew!
My congregation provided material resources so we could get started, and I taught the workers the skills needed, while mentoring them to harness their resources. With the budgeting skills I acquired in SLDI program, I was able to monitor and use our resources very judiciously. Other skills that helped me include leadership, facilitation, team building, and personality type and need assessment.
The fruits of our labor
One of our biggest accomplishments was formulating a policy to include items like our vision and mission statements, our core values, specific goals and activities, and our salary scales. This policy has helped us a lot. It serves as a guide makes us focus on our goals for the future.
Employee Growth & Benefits
Since we began in 2008, we have doubled our employees from four to eight. None of our workers are able to read. But they are now enrolled in adult secondary school. Two of them will be taking their West African Examination Council for secondary class while others are still in senior secondary school II or below. We trained two sisters how to sew, who went further to specialize in sewing of liturgical vestments. They are now experts in that field.
The center also opened a savings account for our employees so they can establish their own in future.
With profits from the sewing center, we were able to purchas:
- four additional sewing machines
- one industrial weaving machine
- one industrial taping machine
- one industrial over locking machine (for sewing of sportswear)
- a generator for a power supply when there are outages
Personal Success of our Employees
- The only man among the workers had phobia for women. Although he is advanced in age, with the help of my counseling he was able to overcome this phobia. In 2010 he was married, and now has two children!
- We found out that one of our workers had a large amount of debt from a time when he fell ill. We were able to reach an agreement with his debtors so we could pay his debt off in installments. He is now a "free man".
- One of the workers' children were withdrawn from mission school and sent back to public school because of lack of funds. She was able to get them back into mission school. She was also able to deck their 6 apartments of 3 bedroom flats each that were abandoned at window level since 1988 and the whole family is now living there.
- Two girls among the workers from a very poor family were able to build four living rooms, a sitting room and a store in their parents’ houses. They trained their younger siblings up to junior secondary school and are now enrolled in adult education secondary school where they took the West African Examination Council for junior class (Junior WAEC). Now, they are happily married and very industrious in their homes.
- After her mother’s mud thatched house fell down, the center gave one of the workers a loan to rebuild it. Although it is a mud house, this one is also plastered with cement and roofed with zinc.
I received a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters for $30,000 USD to complete a hostel for our Vocational school for girls. The project has been completed and financial report has been given to the foundation.
Using profits from the sewing center, I facilitated the drilling of two motorized boreholes for our communities that have no access to portable water. The overhead tanks can hold 12,000 liters of water.
I am indebted and grateful to ASEC for establishing the SLDI program to train and empower African sisters to make our ministries better. Many thanks go to Sr. Clementina Obemebe who encouraged me to write the proposal and is always ready to answer my calls and answer my questions when I need help.
This project is directly addressing UN Sustainable Development Goal(s):Sr. Justina Ijeoma ELom, SJGS (SLDI Alumna, Project Management Track, 2009)
Empowering Sisters to Lead
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