(re-posted from June 2013)
The 57 teenage girls that are part of Timbali Craft’s headband project gather on Saturdays to cut fabric and sew. Its a fun time of working and hanging out together, and they end each time with some Bible study and prayer. At the end of each month the girls receive a small stipend, per headband sewn, so they have a little bit of spending money; and just before the new school year starts in January, they receive full payment for the previous years work, to be put toward their education costs.
These are not your typical teenage girls. Their responsibilities at home are big. Many have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. They do without a lot of the things that we take for granted. Several weeks ago, some money was donated to do something special for the headband girls. Allison, who heads up the headband project in Swaziland, used the money to make up hygiene packs for the girls of soap, deodorant, a wash cloth, and toothpaste. At first Allison pretended like she had only one hygiene pack to give away as a prize, and everyone wanted it. When she told them that she actually had a pack for each girl, they broke out in cheers. What moves you to jump up and cheer? I bet soap and deodorant aren’t on the list. I think meeting these girls, and getting a glimpse into their lives would make even a bald man want to buy a headband! J
Education is a big deal in Swaziland. The government is working towards providing free education, but still the overwhelming majority of primary education is not free, and there is no free secondary education. In a country where 2/3 of population lives on less than a dollar a day, paying school fees is a struggle. Also, teenage pregnancy is rampant, causing many girls to drop out of school and fall into the seemingly never-ending cycle of poverty.
Our hope is that in the face of the statistics stacked against them that this headband project can become a game changer for these young womenthat theyll stay in school, that theyll learn skills, and that theyll find significance and self-worth.