A former model left the catwalk to teach tailoring and design to underprivileged women in Kenya.
As of last year, Maja Kotala’s Sewing Together School has now partnered with the Kenya Salvation Army and 20 graduates with their own products available for purchase online.
The 30-year-old from Chorzów said: “I just finished with a group that are ready to fly. The next group has started and they have incredible energy.
“They want to change their lives, they want to help me change the lives of other people and I couldn’t be more grateful and grateful.”
Based in the Bamburi district of Mombasa, the free classes teach students not only how to design clothes, but also how to design their own fashion line.
Classes also include yoga and meditation on the program.
Kotala came up with the idea after losing her modeling job in Paris due to issues related to COVID and the loss of her father.
After studying fashion design in Australia, Kotala decided she wanted to use the skills she had learned to empower women in Africa by teaching them to sew.
She said: “Uganda was the first trip and I have to admit I didn’t like it. I came home it was so hard. The culture difference was so big that I didn’t know if I wanted to continue.
“The love I felt in me for Africa returned so I decided to give it a second chance and went to Nairobi.”
After her father died, she found the strength to help women and vowed to continue with Sewing Together.
Kotala said in a video on his YouTube channel: “I wanted to know why life tested me so much, I lost my job, my life in Paris and now a parent.
“Why are you doing this to me? I stayed in Poland for four days before returning to Mombasa because I had these women waiting for me, who believed in me.
“They wanted to change their lives and I was supposed to be the person they did it with.”
In addition to teaching the women in the group to sew and design clothes for commercial sale, the project also fights menstrual poverty with their reusable pads.
The Sewing Together websites state: “Due to the lack of adequate protection, young girls during their period are often forced to use leaves, feathers or even sand. Many young women even stop going to school.
“It creates gaps in education and often leads to expulsion. Sewing Together contacted Polish fashion houses for help, from their scraps we make stamps!
“All in a spirit of sustainable fashion and zero waste. “