Most of the people who make handbags are Zambian women, but that didn’t keep Simon Phiri away from the project. Simon is a single 27 year old who lives with his divorced mother. He has 3 living siblings (a number of his siblings died as children.)
Simon receives a small amount of money working part time as a gardener. He also serves at his church in a nonpaying position as a lay minister. He heard from a friend at church about RecycloCraftz. Simon was determined to learn to make handbags, but crocheting proved not to be his strong suit. Instead, he learned to make the wooden buttons and toggles for the handbags. Later, although he had never sewed before, Simon learned to make the cloth sling bags.
RecycloCraftz has enabled Simon to help support his family and buy food. He donates much of his monies to the youth and young adult program at church; often sacrificing his own need for a pair of shoes first. Not only that, but Simon has been able to take his new-found sewing skills into the marketplace. He has learned not only to repair and tailor clothes but to make traditional Zambian clothes from beginning to end. Recently, he clothed all the members of his church choir in new matching shirts! He also makes vestments for the Lutheran church where he ministers. In addition, Simon has learned the basics of sewing machine repair, another source of income.
Simon’s persistent hard work with making handbags has earned him material benefits. But the spiritual benefits he reaps are even greater. Simon dreams of founding his own youth program to reach the young people of Zambia and spread the Word of God. Simon was determined not to give up, so he tried first crochet, then making buttons, and finally found his niche with a sewing machine. His determination is also his best asset in sharing the Word of God. Thanks to Recyclocraftz, Simon has the skills to not only make handbags but also to make his dreams of ministry come true.