Wednesday, 24 June 2020
SIM Australia mission workers Pete and Jo Ong have served in Malawi with their children for 8 years. Pete is leading the Mtengo Youth Discipleship Ministry
while Jo has pioneered the sewing ministry, Tiyamike.
Tiyamike teaches sewing skills to women from low-income families so they can provide for themselves and their families. The nine-month program includes classes on basic tailoring and small business skills. Each class begins with prayer and a Bible study. Students receive a sewing machine when they graduate so they can begin their own business. Graduates can also return to Tiyamike to receive sewing work for which they are paid per item. The ministry offers graduates this opportunity for two years while they are working on slowly building up their own tailoring businesses at home.
Pete and Jo were on Home Assignment in Sydney when the restrictions on international travel took place due to COVID-19, causing their flight to Malawi to be cancelled. Here, Jo shares how Tiyamike has been able to help the community during this time.
“On the sewing front, our women immediately began to learn to sew cotton face masks, firstly for themselves and then for their friends and neighbours. Due to the connection with the Malawi Ministry of Health, Tiyamike Sewing was listed as one of the approved places to have masks made and, we were recognised as adhering to WHO standards.”
“As a result, we have had many enquiries for masks to be made. So far more than 3000 masks have been sewn by our women, providing them with much needed income and at the same time helping manage the COVID-19 pandemic in Malawi. These masks were ordered by companies and organisations for distribution as well as for the SIM Malawi partner church, the Africa Evangelical Church (AEC). More masks are in production as we speak.
“With the help of the COVID-19 Response funds from SIM, we were able to purchase fabric to be made into 100 cotton PPE gowns for the local hospital as they are desperately in need of PPE.”
One of Tiyamike’s first responses to COVID-19 was to educate all the vulnerable women who are students or graduates of Tiyamike. Jo was also able to use her creative giftings to help educate others about safe hygiene practices.
Jo explained, “From my end here in Sydney, I illustrated infographic posters to help educate our women as most existing infographic are either in English or include symbolic graphics which the average under-educated Malawi may not be familiar with.”
“God connected us with someone in the Malawi Ministry of Health so that we could have our posters approved for distribution in Malawi. We also made our posters available to other organisations to use and distribute, including being translated into chiyawo and Portuguese for Mozambique.”
Praise God for the way he has been working through Tiyamike during this time!
To learn more about the ministry of Tiyamike, click here