As usual, this past quarter has been a busy one for DIMA. The new academic year started at the beginning of October. We welcomed back 60 tailoring and leather working students to begin their second year of training. And our weaving students began their final quarter of the second year they have been working with us. They have just completed weaving their first blanket.
An important development this quarter was receiving official accreditation as a vocational training school from the Nigerien government. This will allow DIMA to issue certificates to our students when they graduate from the program. Graduates will be able to show prospective employers their certificates to demonstrate proficiency. The accreditation will also make DIMA eligible for government support.
Friends of Niger gave us a second grant of $5000. We will use this money to begin 9 months of training in tailoring for 30 young patients at a national fistula clinic sometime in early 2023. The young women will then have a means to earn a living when they return to their villages, and having a useful skill will also help them to reintegrate into their communities. We are hoping to raise enough funding to be able to give each student a sewing machine to take with her when she returns to her home.
The US Embassy in Niger awarded us a grant of $7000. This money was used to buy 20 sewing machines for the sewing program as well as additional cutting tables, hand tools and storage cabinets. In October of 2021, we had doubled the number of students in our sewing group from 15 to 30 people, and we needed the additional equipment to provide a better learning experience for everyone.
And, finally, as this is being written, a special two-week training program for weavers has started. We were able to fund the training through funds from the Nigerien government, Friends of Niger, Remember Niger and Global Giving. Our weaving instructor Abdoulwahid Goumer has long hoped to make the transition from traditional looms to European-style floor looms. These looms offer greater possibilities in patterning and improved productivity—important for earning a living. Several months ago we started working with Genevieve Hill-Thomas to bring a training program to the school. Dr. Hill-Thomas is a professor at the Ringling College of Art and Design and also an experienced weaving instructor. She did the research for her Ph.D on weaving in Burkina Faso. In addition to volunteering her time to provide training, she has donated two floor looms and a table loom to DIMA. She is working with a group of experienced weavers who will become trainers for our students. We are excited to see what the weavers will do with this new equipment.