You may know her as Miss Supranational 2021, but Chanique Rabe is not only a beauty queen.
She is serving her community by teaching sewing to high school girls through her community initiative, ‘The Mending Project’.
“I realised that the majority of Namibian youth might never have an opportunity to learn a physical life skill like sewing,” she shared with Youth Corner.
Rabe, who was crowned Miss Supranational 2021 in Poland last month, out of 58 contestants from across the world, said the whole idea is to teach them a skill that can create jobs in their futures or spark entrepreneurship.
“I believe in teaching people how to fish, instead of just bringing them fish – and I am excited to see what this project could lead to in our Namibian community,” she said on Instagram.
The 24-year-old fashion designer stated that she noticed the impact the opportunity of learning sewing had on these women, and that if they didn’t possess a sewing skill, they might not have been able to work during this pandemic.
“After being crowned Miss Supranational Namibia (in 2020), I had the opportunity to use the wonderful platform to meet the owners of African Monarch Lodges based in the Zambezi region.”
“They started the Sijwa Project that is dedicated to skills development in the area – from the construction of recycled glass beads to making of compost, and how to make a greenhouse.
“The team from African Monarch Lodges was very interested in creating a space where kids in that area could learn sewing skills.”
The African Monarch Lodges and Rabe started the Junior Sewing School within their Sijwa Project, and a workshop was built with recycled plastic water bottles and sponsored sewing machines and fabrics.
“I wrote up a curriculum and workbook, and then spent some time up north at the project, teaching some senior
seamstresses the new curriculum. About 20 boys and girls are enrolled to learn new sewing skills every week, allowing them to shape their future.”
The enthusiastic brunette said her mission is to empower the youth to be emotionally and intellectually independent, and she is determined to grow this initiative.
Rabe and her team are planning more advanced classes for the girls at Hope Village while searching for more areas, schools or children’s homes she could teach sewing skills.
What awaits the Junior Sewing School up north in the Zambezi region with African Monarch Lodges is broadening the curriculum, so that the participants are educated on more aspects of fashion design than just sewing.
“We are also looking into growing the school so that more learners can enrol, as well as hopefully opening another school in a different location,” envisioned Rabe.