Gifts-in-Kind

60 Sewing Machines from Pedals for Progress
Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world and consistently ranks at the bottom of the United Nations Development Index. Still, for those fleeing war, persecution, and famine in the Horn of Africa, it is both a transit country and destination. With an estimated 210,000 refugees in Yemen, the capital city of Sana’a hosts one of the country’s largest urban refugee populations. With high levels of unemployment across the country, especially amongst the refugee population, livelihoods opportunities are hard to come by.

In 2011, IRD Yemen received 60 sewing machines from Pedals for Progress as a donation to support its UNHCR funded program, Community Services Assistance to Urban Refugees. The aim of the program is not only to support urban refugees, but also to add value to other organizations’ programs that support refugees in the capital city of Sana’a. As such, IRD works closely with a local NGO which provides vocational training services to female refugees and Yemeni women alike. From the in-kind donation, a total of 64 women (42 refugees and 22 Yemenis) are being trained on the sewing machines, of whom 50 of the top graduates will be rewarded with the actual machines upon graduation. In this way, the beneficiaries will not only have learnt the skills to develop livelihoods opportunities for themselves but they will also have the equipment to do so.

One of the challenges faced with this donation concerns the model of the sewing machines. Singer, the company that produces the machines, does not operate in Yemen and hence spare parts and maintenance services are not readily available. As such, 50 of the machines are being used for training while 10 of the lesser quality second-hand machines are being used for spare parts.

Zahra Jama Ahmed, a Somali refugee mother, was particularly grateful for the support, ‘Thanks to having the machines, I have been able to learn to sew which means I will be able to bring an income for my family’

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