Dispositif d’Initiatives pour les Métiers de l’Artisanat (DIMA) was founded in 2015 when the
government of Niger granted the organization nonprofit status. The free vocational training school was opened in Niamey, Niger, in 2017. Classes started with 15 students receiving three months of training in reading and writing.
After that, we set up a sewing workshop and the students began to learn tailoring. The training included lessons in sewing machine maintenance and repair and ran until July 2021. With a donation in 2019 from a group of Americans living in Niger, we now have enough sewing machines for each student to have one to use.
In 2019, we opened a leather workshop and began training 15 teenagers. Over the summer break, DIMA arranged for several of the students to have apprenticeships at a major leather working cooperative in Niamey. All the leather working students received trained through July 2021. Also, in 2019, Remember Niger, an NGO headquartered in the United States, began providing financial support.
In 2020, in addition to continuing to train its regular students, DIMA trained 26 refugees from Mali in tailoring for several months with financial support from the International Committee for Emergency Aid and Development. The Support Fund for Vocational Training and Apprenticeship provided a couple of months of funding for our leather working program.
Also, in 2020, we launched a funding campaign on Global Giving to begin a weaving program. We raised enough funds to construct a shed to house the weaving equipment, install 5 traditional Nigerien looms and purchase tools and yarn. In February 2021, ten students began working under a master weaver skilled in tera-tera weaving, a traditional style of Nigerien weaving. A group of donors in the United States purchased and shipped a floor loom to the school. We met our funding goal of $10,000 for the Global Giving campaign in 2021.
The year 2021 also saw DIMA graduate the first cohort of tailoring and leather working students from our multi-year training programs. We have anecdotal evidence of their success in finding work, but are doing a survey to formally document the results of their training.