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Meet Sierra Leone’s Essential Workers: The Seamstress

by Alhassan Lamin
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Some years ago, I worked as a hairdresser, a job that I started just after I dropped out of school during the Civil War. After a few years, I had to quit because there was a misunderstanding with the shop owners. During that period, while I was sitting at home, my older brother bought a sewing machine. I challenged myself to learn to tailor so I can learn multiple skills. The country that we are in today makes it hard for people to survive on just one skill.

After I learned, I was motivated to help other people learn how to do hair or sew. Later on, I opened a small tailoring shop, some people discouraged me, but I never gave up. In 2019 I was given an indefinite notice at the shop. It was after that I joined Izelia. Here at Izelia, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected us greatly, from working on corporate contracts for different organizations and government institutions, now we only make facemasks. And for us, the staff we are not working on a monthly salary, we only earn per production. Right now, since its massive mask production, we are getting SLL 1,500 or SLL 2,000 per mask, and that is not enough. On down days, the owner has to pay out of pocket to keep us going.

Work was good before the pandemic; I could make over a million Leones per month, mostly for clients who needed clothing on holidays, back to school outfits, and other important occasions. Now things have changed, I can’t depend on relatives overseas for survival because they have their issues. The only thing I am hoping for now is for God to intervene since he knows the solution to our problems.

For me, there is less family burden. My kids stay with their father, who cares for them; I only send my special contributions on some other days. The only thing that is worrying now is my rent and additional expenses.

Credit: OSIWA/Essential Stories

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