By Enkhzul Altangerel; Edited by Jeannine d’Entremont-Farrar
What’s the most important thing in your home? For 44-year-old single mother Ariunaa, it’s her sewing machine, which has transformed the struggling homemaker into a professional tailor.
Many customers buy her deels – Mongolia’s traditional wraparound coat worn with a wide sash as a belt. The income allows her to fund her children’s education and Ariunaa is grateful to World Vision for getting her started.
Raising her four children alone, life has been a constant struggle. Her eldest daughter goes to university in the capital Ulaanbaatar, while the others are in school.
The family was once herders, but as the cost of education soared, Ariunaa was forced to sell her livestock and settle in the town centre. “As my kids grew up, my expenses increased. I sold our animals to pay for my daughter’s college fees and other stuff,” says Ariunaa.
With few vocational skills, the former herder was jobless, so decided to use her experience of sewing to make clothes at home. Selling her hand-stitched products to neighbours and friends, Ariunaa gradually become known in her community as a talented tailor.
World Vision’s economic training was the turning point, however. Recognizing her dedication and ability, World Vision gave her an electric sewing machine and helped establish her new small business: a traditional Mongolian clothes shop.
“The sewing machine made everything easier,” the tailor says. “It’s very fast, so I can make a lot more clothes. It took me about a week to make one deel before, but now I can finish one in two days.”
The deel-maker explains: “My relatives and neighbours used to come to me as they knew I made clothes at home. But since I opened my shop, I’ve had many more customers. The sewing machine can do different types of stitching, so now I can also sew with various materials and patterns.”
With more orders and the equipment needed for her business, Ariunaa’s revenue has steadily risen over the last few months.
“Now I have a stable source of income, so I can afford my kids’ educational needs. And I hope to expand my shop by taking out a loan,” she says. “Our town is small and there isn’t much fabric available, so I’d like to get some from the cities to give my customers more choice.”
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