Clementina can’t stop. For many people, the sense of accomplishment that comes from earning the respect and gratitude of an entire community, establishing a successful business, empowering others through patience and purpose and nurturing a beautiful family would constitute “enough.”

For Clementina, these elements represent a foundation from which her ambitions can reach farther and touch more lives throughout her Outreach-affiliated community in Zambia. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated these plans, but it’s nothing she and her team can’t handle.

Clementina and her team share smiles and equipment as they work to produce face-masks for their community.

Clementina and her team share smiles and equipment as they work to produce face-masks for their community.

Getting Busy

Admittedly, Clementina has never been one to stay idle, as noted elsewhere on our blog. Throughout her life, she’s smashed through every obstacle in her path – after excelling at school, she worked as a teacher in a local program designed to empower teens by equipping them with a variety of applicable professional skills to expand their job opportunities. Among the multitude of masteries she claimed through the program, Clementina discovered her talent for tailoring.

Through Outreach-facilitated collaboration with other community members and local leaders, Clementina opened her tailoring shop and got busy alongside her assistants, the steady work keeping their single sewing machine spinning at a near-continuous pace.

Like nearly every business around the world, the emergence of the COVID-19 epidemic prompted some changes for Clementina’s team of seamstresses. Unlike most businesses, her team’s unique skills were perfectly suited to meet one of her community’s most-pressing new needs: Manufacturing and distributing face-masks.

Emeldah, another Outreach Zambia superstar, shows off the latest handiwork produced by her team.

Emeldah, another Outreach Zambia superstar, shows off the latest handiwork produced by the tailoring group.

Masks are currently required by the Zambian government for public travel and access to markets, making the tailors even more in-demand than usual.

Masks are currently required by the Zambian government for all public travel, making the tailors even more in-demand than usual.

The tailoring group boasts a diverse roster of members young and old who combine their skills to ensure the quality and efficiency of their work.

The tailoring group boasts a diverse roster of members young and old who combine their skills to ensure the quality and efficiency of their work.

Demand & Supply

As the COVID-19 crisis progressed, Clementina and all 10 of her fellow tailors, known as the Chinchileni group, took it upon themselves to reallocate their funds to purchase mask-making materials. Some well-placed stitches are all it takes to transform their supply of chitenge (a durable, colorful fabric commonly used throughout Africa) and elastic into a bounty of effective masks – enough for everyone in their community.

Their timing was perfect. The Zambian government’s mandate that all individuals are required to wear face-masks when venturing to markets or other public places increased the urgency of their work, and produced 40 masks at an incredible pace, considering they only own one sewing machine.

Members formed an assembly line to maximize production, each focused on a single step – some “tacked” mask templates onto fabric using chalk, some handled cutting and folding duties, others pinned it into shape in preparation for the sewing machine. This first batch furnished two masks to every family affiliated with her group at no cost.

It’s all part of the plan. “Sewing face masks can help keep our community healthy,” Clementina told us, “and it can also help us raise funds to purchase more sewing machines and other tools that will help us meet the demands of production.”

The Fabric of a Community

Though the Chinchileni group does not have the resources to furnish free masks for everyone in their community, members ran the numbers to determine an affordable price for new masks that covers the costs for additional materials, so they can continue their work until everyone’s needs are met.

Feeling inspired? Good news: This story is merely the most recent step in Clementina’s remarkable journey. Check out our previous article about her for a mega-dose of miraculous motivation. She’s one of the most incredible women we’ve ever known, and she’s just getting started.


How to Help

You can have a direct impact on the lives of people like Clementina as they work together to support themselves, their families and their communities during the COVID-19 crisis, and provide hope for all the plans and goals ahead. 100% of all donations go directly and completely to support our work with communities worldwide. Give now!