When she was ten, Tabia Dusangiyitegeko didn’t realise her body was growing abnormally. But while celebrating her 12th birthday, she realised that other children her age were taller and looked older than her.
Now 37 years old, Dusangiyitegeko, a mother of one and resident of Kimonyi Sector, Musanze District, says she felt like the whole world was crumbling down on her when she realised that she was growing abnormally.
“I started thinking of why I was not growing up like others. I could not imagine seeing my young sisters growing taller than me. I even used to put on their clothes when they became too small for them to wear,” she recalls.
“It wasn’t until I was 14 that my parents told me I had growth disorders,” she says
Dusangiyitegeko says that since then, she thought that she would have to live a dependent life, surving on handouts from her parents and wellwishers.
“I thought I would not be able to live a successful life owing to my situation,” she says
But when she completed her primary school, she started weaving clothes using threads. “I developed skills of making small clothes for children. I was innovative and people used to wonder how I was doing it,” she says.
A dwarf is a person of unusually small stature, especially one whose bodily proportions are abnormal.
In 2003, Dusangiyitegeko met a good Samaritan who advised her to train in tailoring but she was pessimistic because of her body size.
“But the man insisted and showed me how possible it was. I went for training and when it was time to practice, he got me a small chair so that I could manoeuver and operate the machine,” she says, adding that she found the task difficult but possible.
“I often got tired of looking up (at the machine),” she says
Getting a handy machine
When she completed training in 2005, she started working on her own using a normal machine, which she used for one year before she was helped by technicians to fix on her machine a metal which could help operate the machine using her hands while sewing.
“That made my work easier. I used the machine to improve my earnings. I also started becoming famous and my clientile base grew,” she says
“I became self-reliant. I could afford all the basic necessities such as paying rent, buying clothes and food among others,” she proudly says
Dusangiyitegeko says she then started saving more than Fwf50, 000 per month.
“As I got more profits, I bought more tailoring machines. My plan was to establish a vocational training centre by 2010. I now have eight machines including two modern ones,” she says
Founding a training centre
Dusangiyitegeko is now the director of ‘Jya Mbere,’ loosely translated as ‘work for developed,’
She uses her eight machines to train children from around the area.
Dusangiyitegeko says she has between 10 to 15 students and each pays Rwf10, 000 per month.
She says she is now able to save Rwf80, 000 from sewing and training students. But Dusangiyitegeko says she is not yet satisfied with her earnings.
“My dream is to have a big sewing workshop. I also want to be a fashion designer, “she said.
Dusangiyitegeko’s business is not devoid of challenges, which she says have hindered her work.
“I still have few machines and little space. Sometimes I get students but lack space to accommodate them. I also find rent expensive. I wish I can be supported to get my own workshop,” she says.
WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT HER
Dativa Nikuze, a client of Dusangiyitegeko says:
“Dusangiyitegeko is a kind and warm woman. Her customer care and services are extraordinary. She is also honest and never disappoints her clients,” she says
“She is also a good tailor and has mustered so many styles. I got to know her when I was travelling and met someone with a nice scarf which she said was sewed by Dusangiyitegeko. I contacted her and since then, we became friends,” she adds.