In collaboration with Real Medicine Foundation, last week Happy Baby has been on a trip to Panyadoli Vocational Technical Institute in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in Bweyale, Uganda. This camp is a UNHCR managed refugee settlement that provides shelter, land and support for more than 25,000, comprised of Ugandan IDPs and refugees from Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Sudan.
The program consisted of training twelve tailors, five Ugandan, one Kenyan, four Sudanese, and two tailoring teachers to become Happy Baby Entrepreneurs in their community. The tailors selected to participate in the training have been funded by Real Medicine Foundation to open their businesses in Bweyale Town. During the training they learned to make ergonomic carriers, practice how to instruct parents to wear the carrier, understand the design aspects and finally participate in marketing the baby carrier and its benefits to become the entrepreneurs of Happy Baby. The first carrier is always considered as a trial for the tailor to keep and take as an example when making the next carriers. Due to lack of machines and experience, the tailors could barely finish their first carrier by the end of the four days training, so we asked them to complete their second carrier before selling to their community.
The selected tailors showed a great entrepreneurial attitude – one could understand why they were selected to be given funds to start their businesses. On our last day in Kiryandongo, we completed the training in the morning and in the evening we attended the Saturday market with baby carriers for a couple of hours. This was where the magic happened; those young tailors all of a sudden turned into baby carrying ambassadors, talking to the crowd about why they should carry their babies, assisting mothers and fathers to try on the carriers. Every tailor found a model parent and baby for themselves to walk around the market wearing their carriers. We sold a carrier within 10 minutes to a father who had a 3 year old daughter!
While our main focus was on the intensive training, we could also hold two community meetings, one in the Bweyale Town (the nearest town where all tailors come for work) and another one in the Kirandongo Refugee Settlement (where most tailors live), and a stakeholder meeting in Kiryandongo Hospital. Since the community was new to the project, we held the meetings in three phases: having an open discussion on current baby carrying methods; trying on the Happy Baby Carrier; then watching our movies on our design process and pilot program in Nkokonjeru. During the movie screening phase in the hospital, we invited all the waiting patients to the meeting room, where we spontaneously presented the carrier and introduced to the project to a large group.
Overall with the training, we hope Happy Baby can create a positive impact on the Kiryandongo and Bweyale Communities through the representative tailors. We thank to Real Medicine Foundation for the collaboration, the Bweyale and Kiryandongo local leaders, the community and the hard working twelve tailors!