Iman Mohammed comes from a family of 11 in the village of Bani Quis in the north-western Yemeni governorate of Hajjah. The family is financially supported by the father, a daily wage labourer and a motorcycle delivery man.
Iman dropped out of school at an early age because she lacked the means to reach her school some six kilometres away from her village. Now 18 and only semi-literate, she wishes she had had the chance to learn at school.
“I remember I was an excellent primary school student, but sadly I can’t read or write like many other girls my age who have now finished high school,” said Iman Mohammad.
Having decided to pursue other learning options to obtain practical vocational skills, Iman joined an apprenticeship scheme – the Skills and Entrepreneurship component of the Supporting Resilient Livelihoods and Food Security in Yemen Joint Programme (ERRYJP II). The programme is funded by the European Union and SIDA, and the scheme is implemented by the ILO in partnership with the Yemeni Ghadaq Foundation.
“Although this training takes place in the village of Kashir, which is six kilometres away from my village, there was no way I was going to miss this chance to learn something new in my life,” Iman said.
Iman’s determination to make the most of the new training opportunity was obvious to Ahlam Ali Hussein, a theoretical instructor from the Ministry of Technical Education and Vocational Training (MTEVT), who specializes in tailoring, dressmaking and fashion design.
“Although Iman is semi-literate, she demonstrated a great deal of interest and quite easily managed to master the basics of dressmaking and sewing,” said Ahlam Hussein.
In addition to theoretical instruction, Iman gained useful sewing skills from the practical training she received at the Kashir Sewing Lab from her master crafts person, Ashwaq Darweesh.
“Iman did not know much about sewing and dressmaking, yet she was quick to learn and produce well-tailored clothes,” Ashwaq Darweesh said.
Iman has now begun sewing dresses at home, and she hopes this will turn into a thriving business that will provide her with a sustainable source of income.
“Usually, an average piece of clothing requires 2,000 Yemeni rials (approx. USD $8) to make, taking into consideration the cost of collars, thread and fabric,” Iman explained. “When I sell the final piece, it goes for at least 3,000 rials, giving me a profit of some 1,000 rials,” said Iman.
“During the Eid holiday season I was able to make a good profit,” Iman said, reflecting on the results of the skills she achieved during the training phase. “I made around 12 traditional women’s dresses, two regular dresses and three pairs of trousers.”
Iman is one of 590 apprentices who received theoretical, life skills and financial literacy training, followed by on-the-job training provided by 320 master crafts persons (MCPs). The scheme had previously provided the MCPs with training on learning methodologies, competency-based training and assessment (CBT/A) and occupational safety and health (OSH). This equipped the MCPs to train the apprentices and help them improve their working conditions.
ERRYJP II is a three-year programme financed by the EU and SIDA and implemented in Yemen by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and World Food Programme (WFP) in six vulnerable governorates: Hajjah, Hodeidah, Lahj, Abyan, Taiz and Sana’a.