Cape High teacher Alayna Aiken’s mission to create sustainable sewing schools in Kenya continues, and this summer, she’s taking rising sophomore Logan Almond to help.
Sunrise Sewing Schools took root several years ago after Aiken went on a mission trip to western Kenya and met with women of the Pokot tribe.
As a textiles teacher, Aiken thought sewing would empower the women to support their families by sewing school uniforms to sell and for their own children, who can't attend school without uniforms.
In 2017, Aiken returned to Kenya with 10 treadle sewing machines and held lessons in a church made of mud. She was thrilled by how proud the women were when they learned to make clothing.
“The goal is not to just give out stuff, but to enable them to work on their own and develop their own skills,” Aiken said. “It’s a hard journey, but I believe in it, so I’ll keep trucking through the hardness.”
Through Aiken’s determination, financial assistance from individual donors, and grants from Rehoboth Beach Sunrise Rotary Club, Eastern Shore Rotary Clubs of District 7630 and the Rotary Foundation World, the original school in Turkwel has expanded to another location in Siala.
Rehab work is needed to convert houses into student dormitories, classrooms and offices for use by staff, guards, property managers, and sanctuary students, and maybe even a child care center, Aiken said. A shop will offer hand-sewn school uniforms, and plans also call for raising chickens to sell for profit.
Logan said he always wanted to go to Africa, and this will be his chance to see the country and contribute to the school. He plans to help paint houses and dormitories, and assist with any other necessary work while he’s in the country from July 15 to Aug. 5.
Fellow students Ellis Jack and Jeremiah Hayes want to go on a future trip, but for now, they told Logan they’ll settle for souvenirs. All three students have purchased masks and T-shirts to support the school.
In the future, Aiken said, she hopes to expand educational offerings at the schools to include instruction in trades such as plumbing, carpentry and masonry.
Schools were shut down temporarily due to COVID-19, but both are now operating with smaller class sizes. With four teachers now on staff, Aiken said she is looking for monthly donors to help support teacher salaries and rehab work on school property.
For more information, or to donate, go to Kenyagather.org.