Jude Hughes, in his mid-70s, of Irish and Trinidadian heritage, is a long-time civil rights campaigner and a Dublin tailor. He became Cultural Officer, in the mid-80s, of the civil rights group Harmony, comprising among others, people of colour, the Travelling Community, and the LGBT community. The group rallied for the ultimately successful introduction of anti-discrimination legislation, which Irish governments had before then thought unnecessary.
At a hotel meeting and further gatherings, people described having perfume sprayed in their letterbox by neighbours who didn’t appreciate the smell of ethnic cooking, and name-calling and bullying of various kinds, not to mention the typical assaults and hate crimes one might read about in the papers. Further legislation has been recently introduced, continuing the legacy of Harmony.
Some twenty years later, the tailor established a series of initiatives to bring sewing machines – gathered from across Ireland from people who no longer used them, perhaps at least in part because new clothes are often bought now, rather than old clothes mended – to African communities, so that they could set up cooperative movements mending and making clothes.
“Women are very versatile,” Jude has said, of one project in Rwanda. “You give them the tools, and they do all the rest.”
One of the latest sewing machines to arrive in Africa from Jude is at the Handmade From Tanzania furniture, home décor, and fabrics manufacturer in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. CEO Helen (an Irish expat) recently shared a
photo (main picture) of one of her employees using one of the machines Jude provided, which she had taken with her on her return to Tanzania after a trip home to Dublin.
“Neema will be using it and she’s very happy as it’s a big improvement on the old one,” Helen said.
Like Handmade from Tanzania on Facebook to find out more about this furniture manufacturer and fashion workshop. (They often have a presence in Dublin too, so check them out!)