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Stitching for Success: The Story of Alimatou Jawara, The Wheelchair-Bound Woman Tailoring Her Way To Trump Hardship

In a local tailoring shop in Fajikunda, along the Banjul-Brikama highway, Alimatou Jawara expertly stitches together pieces of fabric to create eye-catching dresses and school uniforms. 

Alimatou was born with her bone shortened in one leg due to congenital deficiency. At a young age, she dreamt of being a tailor to make clothes for herself and others. However, the road to success wasn’t straightforward for Alimatou. “I dropped out of school at grade four due to financial constraints. I lost my mother and father when I was very young,” she told The Chronicle. 

Alimatou grew up living with her elder sister who couldn’t financially support her to continue with her education. “There was no opportunity for me to continue with my education. The biggest challenge here is that everyone needs to have their own means of living and you have to be self-reliant. But as a young woman, with no parents and no education, it was very tough.”

Alimatou Shows fabric bags she made

Thirty-six year old Alimatou eventually got involved with ‘Social Workshop’, a tailoring shop which provides vocational and business skills training to young physically challenged people in The Gambia. “I had no means of ever being a tailor or improving my skills, but with Social Workshop’s help, I am able to make a living on my own.”

She’s already impressing the community with her skills and she’s built up a strong client base.  “I’ve also gained a lot more business knowledge. In the future, I hope to have my own tailoring shop where I can make my own dresses for clients.”

Alimatou still longs for an education, but she’s happy to be able to make a living out of tailoring. “I do wish I had the opportunity to go to school, but sadly it wasn’t possible.” However, she’s hopeful for the future and is determined to make a success of herself – and she’s planning to do it sooner rather than later.

Alimatou now wants to own her own tailor shop where she would employ other physically challenged people. “I want to have my own shop sooner. I want to prove to the whole world that disability doesn’t mean inability”.

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