Don't worry ......

Newsletter June 2011
Tuma Viela

Ibrahim enters the room wearing a warm cardigan and for the first time ever I see him wearing socks. His gaze settles with amazement onto the makeshift display of workshop items I've set up in the corner of my mothers back-room. "Wauw!" he says. He hasn't seen how a few days ago I spread all our products out onto the bottom of our four suitcases, covering them with a thin layer of clothing to disguise the amount of items I'm bringing over, for customs. He kneels down on the floor to watch the power-point presentation, offering a beautiful show-and-tell of what we are doing in Ghana. The popular Tamale song "Tiyumba", which serves as background music to the many colourful pictures that are flipping onto the screen, resonates through the room.

I look outside through the window and suddenly realize it has been a long time since I actually saw a window...What happens behind it, for me definitely aren't daily occurrences anymore, but I have lived here for 40 years so at least they aren't foreign to me...just different than 'normal'. On the other hand, for Ibrahim everything is new and he observes this novel world alternately with wonder, surprise and suspicion...sometimes in silence....sometimes he voices his observations with funny, indignant or curious comments.

I pass behind him and rearrange a few things so they stand out a bit more; shortly we shall be receiving some people who wish to help Tuma Viela. We will meet to discuss ideas and the future of this very special project. We are so proud that we can show all of this! The whole team in Ghana has worked so hard the last few months to produce a variety of items that form the basis of our work. I straighten out a stack of schoolbags and can see sister Fawzia before me under the scorching sun, she worked hours on these... Latif, next to her, always so serious, putting together the beautiful large, colourful storage bags, his face so earnest...The colourful raincoats now hang on display here complete with a hat and shoulder-bag and it makes me think of Rahinatu who finishes an order of 35 raincoats on a weekly basis...a huge job because it doesn't just entail the stitching of the coats, but also the producing of the material! Hopefully the rain season has started in Ghana and the coats can finally hit the streets!

Bright orange articles jump out at me and I think of Sumaya who makes them using the new orange 'Energy drink' sachets. "For Holland" she says every time, beaming at me, more than satisfied with the pretty result, even though it is a bit more of a challenge using this softer plastic on her hand-driven sewing machine. The red-orange-yellow 'screams' at me when I come across the garbage in the streets of Tamale, but the end result of this addition to our line of products looks very happy and vibrant next to the blue of the water sachets so it works out well!
This bright novelty has also drawn the attention of the kids and as a result, these new sachets are offered by the hundreds on Saturday mornings at the workshop.

Next to all these extra items we have made to show in Holland, we also had to continue meeting the demands of all the people in Tamale. So many things we had to make and such a increasing stack of sachets! Until the very last day I've kept track of what we have produced from the 1st of January 2010 through to June 10th can find those numbers under the heading "results".

We've also been able to catch up with our backorder and for the children who want a schoolbag, the process once again is a simple as handing in sachets and going home with a bag straight away. The same applies to the pencil cases, hats and caps, of course this is not only fun for all, but it also has the most stimulating effect! For raincoats there is still a 3 week waiting list and for the oh so coveted sailcloth, people are going to have to be patient...the waiting period is up to 3 months! It is a shame and we are going to work hard to shorten that time for our customers!

I find comfort in the knowledge that, as I spend 6 weeks here in Holland, the Tuma Viela team in Ghana continues the "Good Work". I have full confidence that things will work out and should problems arise unexpectedly, we shall use them as a learning tool. While they are sewing away on their machines, I am going to try and give more publicity to the project. There are a variety of activities planned so keep an eye on the website! I am ready to exchange the yams for potatoes for the next couple of weeks....the early sunsets for long summer evenings...long work days for maybe nothing at all for a little while...
The phone rings. It is sister Fawzia asking how I am doing. I am pleasantly surprised and ask how everyone at the workshop is doing and how things are going.
"Don't worry, everything is going on well!" You see...! Fantastic!
Then the come the men...everything is going to be alright!