Couple stitching up sewing machine repair workshops

Bevan Aieile and his wife Rose.

He knows so much about sewing machines that if one breaks, he knows instantly which part needs fixing.

Bevan Aieile, from Malaita Province is the owner of a local sewing machine repair company and has fixed sewing machines for the past thirty years.

“I first learnt about sewing machine repair in 1986,” he said.

“An Australian arrived in the country to help organisations under the Solomon Islands Christian Association, SICA with sewing machines.”

At that time Mr Aieile was a mechanic.

“The Australian told us that Solomon Islands is a third world country and it would have a lot of second hand sewing machines imported. Who will repair them?”

Mr Aieile started to fix sewing machines after the training.

“I would fix the sewing machines and the people would give me some money,” he said.

“When we didn’t have money for rice at home, fixing the machines helped us get by.”

He then saw it as way to earn money for his family.

In 2007, he registered the business with his wife Rose as “BR Mobile Training Repair School” setting up first office at their home.

Upon requests from communities, they would go and conduct trainings for them.

Soon, they were all over the country.

A hand sewing machine

“My wife and I went to almost every provinces and communities in the country except Choiseul province and the Shortland islands,” he said.

By then his wife had learnt the trade herself and would fix the machines in his absence.

She also helped him when he taught in the communities.

In 2015, they set up the Auki Academic Learning Centre at Auki Malaita province for standard six and form three drop outs.

They set this up so the young people received their Community Learning Certificates, CLC, which would allow them entry into the Vocational Training centres.

The Ministry of Education received reports about their trainings and came to recognise sewing machine repair as an important skill.

This year, the Ministry, through its Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) division, organised a training for teachers within the country’s vocational training centers.

TVET Director Christopher Mae said the training was a capacity building workshop and to improve the standard of learning in training centers.

“The training came about from the review of the life-skill curriculum, a subject area for TVET under life skills,” Mr Mae said.

The Ministry also endorsed the first manual on sewing machine repair, written by Mr Aieile and his wife.

Mr Mae said it was the first manual of its kind for TVET.

“We launched it today, before the first session of the training began. This is the training manual for sewing machines repair, maintenance and settings.”

This was quite an achievement for the couple and proved they have come a long way.

But they still have big plans ahead.

Mr Aieile said they want to establish a proper school in Honiara.

“Our set up is very small. Every time we go out to conduct trainings we would also talk about family management,” he said.

“For a family to see change or development, we must work together.”

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