Our workshop is based in the centre of Kasungu, amongst a busy parade of shops. It allows us to have a direct relationship with our producers, and also acts as a hub for other local makers to come in for work or training – making use of our foot operated sewing machines, which avoid the problems of the limited electricity supply.

There are always people coming and going, which makes it a very sociable place. The women we work with gossip, laugh and listen to music as they work on producing our products for sale in London. People also drop by to browse, arrange private commissions, or just to sell their latest crop of vegetables – tomatoes, or ‘money-makers’ as they’re called, are always popular. One of our tailors, Agogo, sometimes brings in chickens to sell, which can cause chaos!
We’re often visited by children from the nearby school too, many of whom have their uniforms made by members of our team.

The busy, friendly atmosphere in the workshop is mirrored throughout the town, and feeds back into our designs.

Meet some of the women behind KHAMA

Lizzie

Like many women in Malawi, Elizabeth Chipula – Lizzie – is the breadwinner in her family. She lives within walking distance of the KHAMA workshop and is one of our most skilled tailors. Since joining KHAMA, we’ve helped her to develop her creative skills, and she now also feeds into the design process. She is particularly good at making garments, and takes on a lot of independent work making children’s dresses. Lizzie is also highly skilled at crochet, and makes beautifully intricate, elaborate items – something we only discovered by chance when we visited her home.

Agogo

Agogo is a nickname, meaning ‘granny’, and that is all anyone ever calls her, though her real name is Mercenica Chirwa. She’s the oldest member of the group, but the nickname really comes from the way she looks out for everyone in the group – acting a bit like a granny, we guess! Prior to working with KHAMA, she was a tobacco farmer, spending long, physically demanding days in the fields, far from her home and away from her family for irregular, low pay. KHAMA now provides her both with a more regular income and the ability to spend more time with her children and grandchildren. Though she gets involved with all areas of product manufacturing, she is particularly skilled at delicate handwork, and makes beautiful fabric flowers.

Limbikani

Limbikani Munthali is the elected leader of the group, and is currently putting some of the income she earns form KHAMA towards training to become a teacher. She chairs negotiations between the workers, the workshop manager, KHAMA founder Elaine and acts as a spokesperson for the women. Also within walking distance of the workshop, she lives alone and has one child away studying in the capital city, so enjoys the social aspect of the KHAMA workshop.