If only I was in fashion school I would understand things better.

Busayo is a mother of 3 in her early 30s, who has a great eye and passion for fashion design, tailoring and dress making. Her favourite part about making clothes is seeing people appreciate her work, ‘it makes them feel good and happy and feel confident about themselves whenever they put on garments made by me’, remarked Busayo, who lives in Old Convent Ballyhaunis Direct Provision accommodation centre in Co. Mayo. Busayo is determined not to let her passion die. ‘I was on my way to school to sit for my leaving certificate examination when accidently my school uniform got torn. I went to the local tailor to get it sewn and unfortunately, the tailor refused to stitch it as she was busy with her work. Determined to have my school uniform stitched I looked for a thread and needle and stitched the torn part. After this awful experience I became interested in learning sewing. I began putting small pieces of clothes together and sewing them and I never stopped sewing. In 2004 I enrolled at a local vocational college to learn sewing because it made me happy, and I wanted to learn how to do it professionally. When I completed my vocational training, I opened a tailoring shop in my hometown and became self-employed. Due to circumstances that were threatening to my life back home I was forced to leave everything I had built for 14 years. I arrived in Ireland in 2018 and was taken to Balseskin Reception centre and while in there I wanted to do sewing to keep busy but I was told I can not use any sewing machine. I was then transferred to Old Convent Ballyhaunis direct provision centre. Life was difficult waking up every morning and doing nothing. I asked what other residents would do to keep busy and it was suggested that I enroll for a Healthcare course. I told some of the residents in Ballyhaunis about my passion for sewing clothes and fashion designing. The response was ‘Busayo, this is not Africa, you can not do sewing here, you can only study healthcare.’ I had to enroll for a healthcare course to keep myself busy. I found it very difficult understanding classes and language was also a barrier. I knew if only I was in fashion school I would understand things better because of my experience in tailoring, even if language was a barrier, I would use logic and experience to understand more. I was feeling more depressed and frustrated with my life. I acquired a second hand tailoring machine and started sewing. Unfortunately, the machine broke After hearing of my story and the passion I have for sewing, a good Samaritan from Dublin donated a new one, a kind gesture that I greatly appreciate. I would also like thank the people who helped raised my plight with this kind person, without their support, I would not have had this donation. I have been sewing for the residents in my centre, and I am delighted to see them happy when wearing the clothes I make and. This makes me forget my problems and gives me Dignity. My dream is to open a sewing shop and combine modern Western and African fashion styles to make clothes using African fabric. To achieve this dream, I am planning on going to a fashion and design school to get more understanding of fashion from the Irish context, and most importantly to get a certificate that qualifies me to open a sewing business and be self-employed. Opening a sewing shop would also give me the opportunity to give back to my community in Ireland by doing clothes alterations for the elderly. As far as I know there is no facility for clothes alterations in my area. Sewing has a therapeutic effect on my mental wellbeing, when I feel depressed or sad, I take my machine and start sewing, then I feel happy.’ Visit Busayo’s Facebook page Davidoc Stitches https://www.facebook.com/busayo.wewe Although currently living in challenging situations of Direct Provision System, Busayo is restoring her dignity through sewing clothes for people and making them feel happy and confident. Dignity Partnership would like to MATCH Busayo with a MENTOR to support her in her journey of becoming a registered and recognised small business and be financially independent. For more info please contact: dignitypartners@gmail.com Remember mentoring is a win-win situation for both the mentor and the mentee!