Sewing Hope in Batam // MBB sewing enterprise for women

In a previous blog post about Sekolah Misi Bagi Bangsa (MBB), we highlighted the humble origins of the school that was founded in a squatter compound called Sri Binti Tanjung Uncang in July 2009. Principal Everly and his wife, Jeguelin, wanted to start a school to help underprivileged children receive good education. In the seven years since, MBB has come a long way from its humble roots – starting out with 22 children in 2009, the student population has grown into its current number of 550.

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Principal Everly (left in yellow) and Jeguelin (in the middle) with their students, and a team of KCC volunteers at the end of the classroom

We ended the post with MBB’s plans to initiate a small sewing enterprise for the parents of their students. This includes a sewing establishment where women can learn how to sew school uniforms, which will then be supplied to MBB and other local schools.

In the 4 months since, the sewing enterprise idea is finally more than just an idea.

Working together with Principal Everly and Jeguelin is a team of Singaporean volunteers from Kingdom Community Church (KCC), who contributed tirelessly to the mission of MBB since 2012. The team from KCC is led by Pastor Melvyn Mak.

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Pastor Melvyn Mak (2nd from right) from KCC initiated the collaboration with Principal Everly (1st from right) to further the mission of MBB

KCC sent teams of volunteers monthly from 2012 to 2015, to engage the children through a ‘Character First’ program. The program teaches children positive social values and encourages them to react kindly and wisely in different scenarios.

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party time at the old school compound with the KCC volunteers
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volunteers from KCC conducting a Character First program with the kids

To motivate the students to perform well academically and uphold good character in their interactions with friends and teachers, KCC initiated a yearly incentive trip to Singapore for the students. The students enjoyed 2 fun days exploring Singapore’s popular tourist attractions such as Universal Studios, S.E.A Aquarium and Gardens by the Bay.

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the kids!

In 2016, concrete plans and actions to start the sewing enterprise were taken, and more people started to get involved:

Transformational Business Network, an NGO that believes in using businesses with social impact to alleviate poverty in Southeast Asia, and Actxplorer (that’s us), came on board in the planning and played important advisory roles.  

Funds were raised by KCC, meetings with interested mothers were organised by MBB, dimensions of the work spaces measured, sewing machines bought, and a sewing trainer hired.

After many meetings and trips made by the Singapore team to Batam, the first training session with the women in the community was held on 5th Feb 2017.

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discussions in progress between Steven Lee (KCC volunteer & TBN board member) and Yanti (sewing trainer), with the help of Vincent (translator)
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Jeremy Han (KCC volunteer and TBN board member) and Vincent (translator) sharing the idea of the sewing enterprise with interested mothers from the community
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second-hand sewing machines were purchased and set up for the first training session

First training in action

Right now, the sewing enterprise is in the training phase. There will be an official opening of the sewing operations last Saturday 18 Feb 2017. The first batch of uniforms is expected to be produced and distributed by June 2017.

In the field of social enterprises, sharing of resources and partnerships between groups of people with different skills but united by the same passion, is essential to effecting real social impact.

The case of MBB-initiated sewing project is a perfect example of this. We hope that this project will become a model for creating sustainable livelihood to fight poverty!

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Yanti and the mothers. Power to the mothers!

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