10 Years of the Mabinti Centre

The Mabinti Centre turns 10 today! To recognise this milestone anniversary, we sat down with Mabinti founder Katia to reflect on the past decade.

The Mabinti Centre grew out of Katia Geurts’ dream: to start an organisation to empower women who have suffered from obstetric fistula. With a background in sewing, textile design, and teaching, Katia worked for years in the Sudan, Rwanda, and Kenya teaching crafting and embroidery skills to people living with disabilities, their mothers, and other women. When she and her family moved to Dar es Salaam in 2006 and learned of CCBRT’s fistula programme, she approached CCBRT’s management with an idea for a partnership. 

On 1 November 2007, the Mabinti Centre opened its doors to its first class of trainees. In the 10 years since then, 100 women recovering from fistula surgery have benefited from the Mabinti Centre’s intensive 12-month course, training in sewing, screen-printing, beading, design, English, and business skills. In addition to training, the women continue their holistic recovery from fistula through group support, life skills, health education (including HIV/AIDS, family planning and nutrition) and wellbeing promotion activities like yoga. By the end of the course, Mabinti graduates have gained the knowledge and skills to enable them to earn their own incomes and build healthier, brighter futures for themselves and their families.

“The difference [at the end of the year] is so big compared to when the women start,” Katia says. “The confidence they build is thanks to the Mabinti Centre. It’s not just having [technical] skills - it’s having life skills lessons, like welcoming visitors and meeting new people, that builds this confidence and helps empower them.”

Whether they settle in Dar or return to their homes elsewhere, Mabinti’s graduates spread awareness about what fistula is and how to seek treatment for it. Through their entrepreneurship, they demonstrate that women can have full lives after suffering from fistula. Each week, one of Mabinti’s graduates leads a crochet lesson with women being treated for fistula at CCBRT as part of their holistic care programme, providing a positive example to them that there is life after fistula.

Mabinti’s impact also goes beyond its walls in other ways: as a social business, it runs a successful production unit, providing income generating opportunities for graduates to work on an extensive range of accessories and home furnishings. The products’ popularity at fairs, retail locations in Tanzania and for international wholesale orders have led Mabinti to near-double its revenue in the last three years alone – revenue which is reinvested into free, high-quality care for women living with fistula at CCBRT’s Disability Hospital.

Reflecting on this success, Katia says, “[it’s] much bigger than I would have imagined at the beginning. But it has grown by itself. We can continue to get better at a lot of things, but I’m proud of the 10 years that we have been helping women with fistula rebuild their lives.”

 

Please join us in celebrating 10 years of Mabinti by sending a birthday gift of $10 through our GlobalGiving page.

Want to learn more about the Mabinti Centre’s work or to visit Mabinti in person? Find out more on our fact sheet and Facebook page.