12 Jan 2015 | By Sun International

Supporting Communities One Stitch at a Time

While the luxurious Royal Livingstone Hotel and family-oriented Zambezi Sun caters for tourists and visitors to Victoria Falls, it's not just tourism that Sun International Zambia (SIZ) invests in – it's communities too.

By selecting and supporting a range of socio-economic development and empowerment programmes that provide sustainable economic opportunities for Zambian communities, the Corporate Social Investment team is committed to responsible tourism and has a firm grasp on supporting women-driven initiatives.

One of these projects, the Nakatindi Women's Group in Tailoring and Design, has recently been awarded a 3 month training programme. Sun International has contracted Lusaka-based Musonda Tailoring School to train the Women's Group in Tailoring and Design.

Supporting orphans

It's through this training programme that the Nakatindi Women's Group will work towards their 2015 objectives and goals.

The initiative began as a support vehicle for orphans and vulnerable children within the community, particularly those who parents and guardians died as a result of HIV/AIDS. By raising money through knitting and selling tablecloths, each member of the Women's Group adopted an orphan, supplying them with uniforms and school supplies. This successful support programme has cared for a number of orphans, with one of the very first adopted orphans now moving on to complete Grade 10 in 2015.

Sun International comes on board

After conducting an assessment of projects in Livingstone, Sun International began supporting the women's group in 2012 and purchased sewing machines for the members in addition to donating recycled linen for use in the creation of a range of products.

The Nakatindi Women's Project exists to improve the lives of orphans and vulnerable children in the community and better the lives of women in the community by passing on skills that they can use to earn an income. After the intense training programme with Musonda Tailoring School, the project will look towards establishing an internally managed production centre. Through a continued collaboration with Musonda Training School, however, future plans include the creation of a website to sell the Nakatindi Women's Project products online.

Each of the 12 trainees included in the programme will receive a certificate of completion once the programme has been concluded. This certificate could be used to open a number of doors for them, whether they wish to pursue an employment opportunity or venture in to starting up their own small business.

Taking skills back to the community

The Women's Group members hail from Nakatindi, a high-density area situated approximately 5 kilometres away from the bustling town of Livingstone. As a small village, Nakatindi is divided into 3 zones, each with its own headmen and elders' committee, while the population of the village is estimated at 6 000 people. Unemployment is high in Nakatindi and the standard of living very low, with most people living under the poverty line. Over 80 percent of the people in the village are subsistence seasonal farmers and almost 90 percent of the remaining population works in private households as domestic helpers.

Through the training, the women's groups will make uniforms for the community school and have confirmed an agreement that the school will buy uniforms. Because government policy dictates that each pupil must wear the required uniform to attend school, this agreement directly benefits the community at large by making school uniforms more affordable for all.

Additionally, the women intend to make home décor items, accessories and clothing that will be sold to tourists and online.