I've been having so much fun over the last couple of months working with Mama Jackie and the girls at our new Bandal Center, officially called “Marie Matty Maison de Couture.” The Bandal center is a continuation of our program at the Mitendi center. It's an internship program to help our Mitendi graduates perfect their sewing skills and get used to working in a professional environment. It also helps them earn an income, as they get paid for each sell-able item they produce.
The theme verse for our program comes from Colossians 3:23-24, which says “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” Our core values are: Faithfulness, Determination, Transparency, and Quality of Workmanship. My favorite part of each week has been during our devotion times, when we've discussed the meaning of these verses and guiding principles, and how they impact our lives in concrete ways.
We're starting out slowly with just a handful of interns. Our first couple of weeks were spent hammering away at the basics: measuring, cutting, ironing, sewing techniques, etc. With the more experienced girls, we jumped right in making items to sell: layettes (fancy baby sheets) and school uniforms, both of which are items that are easily sold here.
This week we will begin producing our main income generating item, surgical drapes. We already have a standing order with our medical supply coordinator, Katherine Niles, for all our Baptist hospitals. If our quality is good, they will buy as many as we can produce! Katherine will be using White Cross funds to purchase the surgical drapes (and soon other medical supplies) from the Bandal Center. For those of you involved in White Cross, you are making a double impact here – you're helping provide medical supplies for local hospitals and helping support Mitendi girls at the same time!
During the summer months, we are also working with a handful of current Mitendi students getting them used to sewing on electric machines. With them, we are also working on producing simple items for sale that will help them earn income. This week we started making some very colorful cotton hankies, using donated and leftover material. Next week, we plan to start making dinner napkins and table runners for Christmas.
These last few weeks, I've thought especially about all of you American Baptist Women and many other dear friends who love missions, love to sew, and love serving others. I know you'd be here, too, sewing and teaching alongside Mama Jackie and me, if you could be. I count it a huge privilege to represent you as I work with these precious young women. Thank you for always standing with us in prayer!
Please keep the Bandal Center in your prayers as the Lord guides us in further developing this program.
Please pray for our young women as they become, not only women of God, but also Christian business women and entrepreneurs.