Miniature paper dresses! They have been sewn by the students of Elimu’s Sewing Project in Malindi. Intricate and detailed, they are a joy to behold and to hold.
During their training sessions, Elimu sewing students use paper from recycled flour bags to practice patterns before working with fabric. They create the complete garment in miniature before they sew the full-sized version in fabric. All the full attention to detail goes into producing one paper dress which is what makes them so precious.
But each dress tells a story – of a girl from rural Kenya raised in poverty with no means to follow a normal educational path. Their families couldn’t afford to keep them in school and for many Grade 8 is the end of the road.

“When you don’t dress like everyone else, you don’t have to think like everyone else.”

When Elimu steps in to disrupt that picture, girls get a second chance. We call our two-year sewing program “Digital Fashion Design”. Along with pattern-making skills and learning how to handle and maintain a treadle sewing machine, Elimu’s sewing project offers business skills, entrepreneurship training, literacy building and digital proficiency. Students learn proper business practices. They learn to explore different ways to make revenues, not just relying on one source of income. They learn to use digital tools to improve themselves and modernize their businesses. They continue their training using YouTube tutorials. They expand their creativity by searching for new fashion ideas via the internet. They market their businesses using online applications like Facebook and WhatsApp.

These girls also get lots of chances to sew with real fabrics – the generous contribution of a kind-hearted donor. This experience builds their expertise and their value as artisans. From paper to digital technology, we are sure these young entrepreneurs will make change happen for the better!


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Elimu empowers learners to increase academic and digital literacy, improve school retention and encourage self-sustainability through employment planning and entrepreneurship. 

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Elimu is the official trade name of Elimu Development Projects, a registered Canadian charity. BN 828374314.

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