“Reap What You Sew,” a documentary film about a tailoring school established in Malawi, Africa, aby a Middle Tennessee native, will premiere at Christ Church Nashville, just north of Brentwood, at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 16.
Founded by Smyrna native and non-profit director Dr. Deb Waterbury, the Reap What You Sew school held their second graduation this past summer. In the two years since the school began, 90% of the graduates have started their own businesses and been able to lift their families out of poverty.
The documentary was filmed on location in Malawi and Mozambique this past summer, and follows the lives of several former graduates of the school as well as highlights the latest graduating class.
“Malawi is one of the poorest nations in the world, and the women there are often destitute,” Waterbury says. “These women receive no education and are often widowed due to AIDS. There are no department stores in the country so you have to buy clothes from tailors, making this the perfect skill for women to learn and pass on to their children. One of our students from last semester opened up her own storefront in her village and we were able to interview her about the incredible transformation in her life.”
The students at the Reap What You Sew school attend a six-month program focused on tailoring. Upon graduation, they receive a sewing machine and supplies free of charge, as well as accounting and bookkeeping training. Classes are held five days a week and students are required to pay 500 kwacha (about .70 cents per month) so they are personally invested, and they must maintain an 85% attendance record to stay in the program. Most of the school’s expenses — tuition, teacher salaries, sewing machines, fabric, and other necessities — are covered by tax-deductible donations from individuals and companies. Waterbury says that they have a long waiting list of women, and the need is great.
“We try to choose women who are economically in dire straits, and a large percentage of women in Malawi fall into that category. Our plan is to open branches of this school in other needy countries in Africa, and my ultimate goal is to offer additional training for culinary arts, aesthetics, and other necessary skills in addition to tailoring.”
Waterbury hopes the documentary will shed light on the plight of these women, and will encourage enough donations to fund several schools in the neediest parts of Africa.
“We are not simply throwing money at people,” she says. “We are purposefully training them with a necessary skill that they can pass along to their children.”
Screenings of “Reap What You Sew” are currently being scheduled in several individual markets in addition to being broadcast on various networks.
Christ Church Nashville is at 15354 Old Hickory Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37211, west of the Nippers Corner area. Tickets are free for the March 16 event, but registration is required for limited seating. Ticket link is: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/reap-what-you-sew-movie-premiere-in-nashville-tn-tickets-55928470561.