A Sewing Class in Nigeria Empowers Budding Fashionistas
A Sewing Class in Nigeria Empowers Budding Fashionistas

Before Modupe was the instructor of the one-year fashion course in southwest Nigeria, she was one of its top students.

The 36-year-old mother of two discovered the fashion course—which is offered at the SOS Children's Villages social center in Ejigbo, Nigeria—when she brought her son to the center for his immunization shots in 2006.

Modupe had been working for a furniture company at the time, but she was looking to start a new career in fashion. She quickly enrolled in the course and began learning the basics of sewing—how to make trousers, dresses, accessories and more.

"Fashion made me believe more in myself," Modupe said recently. "I could explain my feelings through clothing."

After she finished the course, Modupe set up a small tailoring business for men and women. Her business, however, wasn't providing enough steady income. When her former instructor at the fashion course offered her a job to teach the course, she jumped at the opportunity.

"I never thought about being an instructor," she said. "But after doing it, I learned that it gives me joy to pass knowledge to people and build up their confidence."

Modupe teaches one of two, one-year fashion courses at the SOS social center, which also offers courses in adult literacy, dressmaking and animal husbandry. The fashion classes meet three times per week and enroll about 20 students per class. The cost is about $75 for the year, and financial assistance is provided to students who need it.

Abi is one of Modupe's students in the fashion course

One of Modupe's former students is a 25-year-old woman named Abi*. She learned about the course through her mother, who participates in the SOS family-strengthening program in Ejigbo.

Abi is using the skills she learned in class to earn money by making coats, trousers, shirts and gowns for men and women. She is currently searching for an internship in fashion—in Nigeria and abroad—to move her career in fashion forward.

"My dream is to open a fashion school so that others can come and learn the skills I was taught here at the SOS social center," Abi said

SOS Children’s Villages runs 10 social centers across Nigeria, serving more than 1,200 at-risk families—including about 4,000 children. The social center in Ejigbo, where Modupe teaches the sewing class, was opened in 2004 and currently serves about 8,000 vulnerable children and their family members. In addition to job-related skills training, the center offers medical care, daycare and psychological support.

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*The name was changed to protect the privacy of the person.