Maja Kotala decided to teach Keyan women how to sew and design so they can forge a career path for themselves.
A 30-year-old model from Chorzów gave up her career for a great cause—helping underprivileged women in Kenya. Instead of continuing to walk on the runway, Maja Kotala decided to teach Keyan women how to sew and design so they can forge a career path for themselves. Kotala began this endeavor last year when she established a school named Sewing Together in the Bamburi district of Mombasa. In no time, her efforts were recognized and now it has partnered up with the Salvation Army Kenya and 20 graduates who are selling their own products online, according to The First News.
Speaking about the project's current state, the former model said, "I have just finished with one group who are ready to fly. The next group has started and they have amazing energy." She explained just how eager her students are to learn the craft and have their own careers. "They want to change their lives, they want to help me in changing the lives of other people and I couldn’t be more thankful and grateful," she said. Now her classes are not just limited to sewing and designing, but also include relaxing activities like yoga and meditation.
But what prompted Kotala to take such a drastic step? Apparently, it was the devastating loss of her father coupled with the lack of projects from her modeling job in Paris due to COVID-related difficulties. The woman could have waited and resumed her career, but during the period of hopelessness, she simply couldn't get her mind off an idea that would help and inspire others. Kotala had studied fashion design in Australia before becoming a model and figured that if she taught these skills to the women in Africa, it would empower them.
"Uganda was the first trip and I have to admit I didn’t like it," she explained honestly. "I came back home it was so hard. The cultural difference was so big, I didn’t know if I wanted to continue with it." But then she couldn't turn her back on the country. "The love I felt inside of me for Africa came back so I decided to give it a second chance and went to Nairobi," she added. In helping and supporting these women, Kotala found her strength which was once lost after her father's tragic demise. Since then, she had vowed to continue her Sewing Together classes no matter what.
Sharing the emotional aspects of her life on YouTube, the former model said, "I wanted to know why life was testing me so much, I lost my job, my life in Paris, and now a parent." She continued, "Why are you doing this to me? I stayed in Poland for four days before returning to Mombasa because I had those women waiting for me, believing in me. They wanted to change their lives and I was supposed to be the person who they did that with." The inspiring woman is not only teaching the group about sewing and designing clothes for commercial sale through her project but is also tackling menstrual poverty by promoting reusable pads.
"Due to the lack of adequate protection, young girls during menstruation are often forced to use leaves, feathers, or even sand. Many young women even stop going to school," reads the website. "It creates gaps in education and often leads to expulsion. Sewing Together reached out to Polish fashion houses seeking help, from their offcuts we make pads." The best part, the fashion project creates zero wastage in the process. "All in a spirit of sustainable, zero-waste fashion," it revealed. That's a win if you ask me!
Cover image source: Facebook | Maja Kotala Sewing Together