Cape High teacher Alayna Aiken’s mission to create sustainable sewing schools in Kenya continues, and this summer she enlists aspiring student Logan Almond.
Sunrise Sewing Schools took root a few years ago after Aiken went on a missionary trip to western Kenya and met with women of the Pokot tribe.
As a textile teacher, Aiken thought that sewing would enable women to support their families by sewing school uniforms for sale and for their own children who cannot go to school without uniforms.
In 2017 Aiken returned to Kenya with 10 pedal sewing machines and gave lessons in a church made of clay. She loved how proud the women were when they learned to make clothes.
“The goal is not just to distribute things, but to enable them to work independently and develop their own skills,” said Aiken. “It’s a tough journey but I believe in it so I’ll keep going through the rigors.”
Aiken’s determination, financial support from individual donors, and grants from the Rehoboth Beach Sunrise Rotary Club, the Eastern Shore Rotary Clubs of District 7630, and The Rotary Foundation World expanded the original school in Turkwel to another location in Siala.
Rehab work is required to convert homes into college dormitories, classrooms and offices for staff, guards, property managers and sanctuary students, and maybe even a daycare center, Aiken said. A shop will sell hand-sewn school uniforms, and there are plans to raise chickens to sell for a profit.
Logan said that he always wanted to go to Africa and this will be his chance to see the country and contribute to the school. During his stay in the country from July 15 to August 5, he plans to help paint houses and dormitories and help with any other necessary work.
Fellow students Ellis Jack and Jeremiah Hayes want to go on a future trip, but for now they told Logan that they would be satisfied with souvenirs. All three students bought masks and t-shirts to support the school.
In the future, says Aiken, she hopes to expand the educational offer at schools to include instruction in trades such as plumbers, carpenters and masons.
Schools have been temporarily closed due to COVID-19, but both are now working with smaller class sizes. With now four teachers on the staff, Aiken said she is looking for monthly donors to support teachers’ salaries and rehabilitation work on school grounds.
More information or donations can be found at Kenyagather.org.