On an average day, you will likely find Andi Marlina working hard in her sewing shop, which is full of colorful fabrics and tools. Andi is a skilled tailor in Makassar, a big and bustling city in Indonesia. While her skills and abilities are already impressive, what makes them even more remarkable is that to achieve them, Andi had to break through many barriers.
Andi was born with a physical condition that prevents her from being able to use her legs. She grew up in a remote town where there is heavy stigmatization of people with disabilities. She explained, “many people said that with my disability, I would never work or have a family.” Despite the constant negative comments she received, Andi always believed in herself. When she was 15, she moved to the city in search of a job.
In Makassar, Andi was invited to participate in a sewing school* for people with disabilities, where she studied for three years. After graduating, Andi started her own sewing business, which was so successful that it drew attention from clients like the Mayor of Makassar and the governor of South Sulawesi’s wife. Andi was devoted to her work and maintained a thriving business for many years. Unfortunately, when COVID-19 hit and the city was forced to shut down, her business experienced a major blow. She told us, “there was even a time when I did not receive any orders during an entire month. At that time, I only relied on the support of my family and neighbors to meet daily needs.”
When our team in Indonesia and our local partner, INANTA, learned about Andi, we invited her to participate in a program that provided economic relief to vulnerable business owners during the pandemic. With the cash assistance, Andi was able to buy materials and tools she needed to maintain her business. She said, “I am very grateful for this assistance. I used it immediately to shop for materials and tools, such as thread, fabric, zippers and more.” Andi also shared that she was very happy to see that her friends, who also have disabilities, were also invited into the program.
Andi’s commitment to her work proved those who doubted her entirely wrong. Not only is she a successful businesswoman, but she also has a beautiful family with her husband and three children. Just like the clothing she creates, which is beautiful and made with care, Andi has crafted a wonderful life for herself and her children.
*This sewing school was through the Bina Daksa Wirajaya Social House and is managed by the Ministry of Social Affairs of South Sulawesi Province.