Prospective students being interviewed
We continue to make progress here at DIMA. The students have been taking their summer break in August and September, but the staff has been busy preparing for school to begin again in October. When school resumes, the weaving students will join 60 new tailoring and leather working students for six months of literacy training.
Our president Soumana Saley has spent the last three months in Niger building support for DIMA and working on plans for the coming year. He is very close to getting confirmation of a travel grant that will allow us to bring a trainer from the United States to help the weavers make the transition from traditional looms to more efficient floor looms—very important for people who are going to be doing production weaving. In addition, the local government has offered to provide land for DIMA to build a facility to house the school and a cooperative. DIMA is also completing paperwork that will make it eligible to receive foreign aid funds dispersed by the Nigerien government.
As mentioned in our last report, Amanda Gilvin made a video about the history of tera-tera weaving to present at a conference on African art. It includes some information about the DIMA weaving school. You can watch the video at https://youtu.be/N4gT5UU1wPM .
Our ultimate goal is to provide young people in Niger with the skills and equipment to earn a living. We are beginning to see proof that our approach to this issue is working. Our first group of students graduated from a three-year program (in tailoring and leather working) in July and we are happy to report that they are now finding work either in workshops or as self-employed artisans. We are also taking the first steps in forming a cooperative. A group of leather working graduates come together to work on their first order, a batch of handbags for a store in Niamey. DIMA is allowing this group to use its leather working studio free of charge until new cooperative facilities can be built. There were about 30 young people in the first class of DIMA students that just graduated. There will be 60 new students in the classes starting in October. Progress!
We thank you for making all this possible. Your funding got the weaving school started and because the Nigerien government is impressed with what we have been able to do with the weaving school, they are now willing to offer support.
DIMA graduate at her new job
New cooperative of DIMA leather working graduates
New students getting ready to start school