Finding Medina’s Voice Through Tailoring

Medina Maneno is unequivocally shy. Words often muffled; her eyes are fixed on her fingernails. One would think that the teenager is not ready to step out of her shell, but that is not true. The young Medina jolts to life at the sight of a sewing machine, it is her forte! When Windle International Uganda gave her a chance to hone that skill, she took it and found her ‘voice’.

A three-month training dubbed Market Oriented Skills Development for Refugees and Host Communities that was implemented by Windle International Uganda, in partnership with Uganda Manufacturer’s Association (UMA) and Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), with funding from European Union Trust Fund-Skills Development Fund (SDF) through ENABEL, saw the youngster learn the ins and outs of tailoring. This was right after sitting her Primary Leaving Examinations. This training opened a sea of favour upon her, one of which was meeting Adjumani’s most sought after tailor, Mike Michael Loguya.

Today, he employs her at his renowned tailoring and embroidery company called Sama Textiles. Interestingly, because he understands that an interview with Medina would leave a lot unsaid, Loguya offers to do the talking and let Medina’s work do the rest.

Time to Thrive

“After Medina finished her training with Windle International Uganda, she came into this workshop asking for internship, I accepted,” Loguya narrates. “She is not the first to ask for that. There are other girls. Those that perform very well, we retain them.”

This was a year ago, and his doubts about her skills were discarded once the young girl put to practice all that she had learned at the Windle International Uganda-funded course. He retained her.

“She really wanted to make life out of tailoring, her favorite is making dresses, and she even made a dress for her sister today,” Loguya praises his employee. “She had the fastest speed in making masks, she can make up to 150 masks a day, and nobody has hit that record in this workshop.”

Her contract maintains that instead of earning a salary, she gets commission instead. For a passionate and fast tailor like Medina, this is the better option for her.

“We call it the piece rate; whatever piece you make, you get money out of it,” he explains. “We pay 40% and retain 60% because I must also take 40%, the remaining 20% must go for the workshop management.” After a pause, Loguya looks at Medina with fatherly pride and what he says next puts a smile on her shy face.

“Medina is one hundred percent going to be somebody who will be earning her living entirely on tailoring. And according to her she says I am her role model,” he says with a mentor’s warmth. “I get a 100% of my income on tailoring.”

The sight of Medina tapping away at her sewing machine, fixing needle and thread, affirms that indeed putting together a lovely outfit is a calling. “Her father is no longer worried about her because she can take care of herself. She is self-sufficient, she can do her hair, and she used to wrap it before,” her boss.

When asked if everything her employer said was true and where she sees herself in the future, Medina beams and whispers, “Yes.” Quietly, she adds, I want to own my tailoring shop like this one.” Though whispered shyly, the words were well thought and Medina has indeed found her voice in tailoring.

About the Project

Market Oriented Skills Development through Vocational Training was funded by European Emergency Trust Fund and the Belgian Government. The Fund was managed in Uganda by Enabel in partnership with Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES).  It was implemented by Windle International Uganda as a lead partner and Young Women’s Christian Association and Uganda Manufacturers’ Association as sub-grantees. The project covered Adjumani Refugee Settlements in Adjumani district in three Settlements of Ayilo 1, Maaji II and Agojo. The general objective of the project was to ensure unemployed refugees and Ugandan women, girls and youth in Northern Uganda (Adjumani) are equipped with employable and marketable skills.


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