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Meet The Blind Tanzanian Man Who Works as a Tailor

January 13, 2017 at 11:00 am | Uncategorized

Mark Babatunde

Mark Babatunde

January 13, 2017 at 11:00 am | Uncategorized

Abdallah devised an ingenious method of taking the measurements of his clients. He now measures clothes simply by feeling the size of the customer's palm. Photo Credit: BBC

A blind, 56-year-old Tanzanian man has inspired many around the world with the remarkable career he has enjoyed as a tailor. Abdallah Nyangalio, an independent tailor in Mbagala, Dar es Salaam, believes that though he may have lost his sight some years ago, he has actually gained more insight since.

In an interview with the Citizen, Abdallah explained that he was careless and less aware of his chances in life when he could see, but now as a visually impaired man, he senses the opportunities he has for shaping his own existence.

“Being visually impaired makes my life better than when I could see. When I was able to see, I didn’t see so many opportunities as I do now. I think better now and I don’t worry.”

Abdallah lost his sight in 1989 from complications resulting from high blood pressure. It was a big blow to the young man who was barely into his thirties. He worried about the future and feared that he would become a burden to his immediate family.

A kind Russian doctor that Abdallah consulted with couldn’t restore his sight but offered to teach him how to sew. Abdallah took up the offer and applied himself diligently to his new skill. Within three months he had picked up a significant level of proficiency and he felt confident enough to sew himself clothes.

Abdallah has made clothes for some of Tanzania's most eminent personalities Photo Credit: mhagalle Blog

Abdallah has made clothes for some of Tanzania’s most eminent personalities. Photo Credit: mhagalle Blog

His early attempts at sewing, however, did not come without some hard and painful lessons. He recalls that his first tailored piece was a pair of trousers he made for himself. He wanted to shorten the trousers, but he cut too much off and they ended right under his knee. In another instance, while cutting a piece of cloth he inadvertently slit his hand badly and had to rush to the hospital to have the wound stitched up.

He wanted to shorten the trousers, but he cut too much off and they ended right under his knee. In another instance, while cutting a piece of cloth he inadvertently slit his hand badly and had to rush to the hospital to have the wound stitched up.

Abdallah, who used to sell second-hand clothes before he lost his sight, has since devised an ingenious method of taking the measurements of his clients. He now measures clothes simply by feeling the size of the customer’s palm.  By multiplying the size of the palm he is able to figure out the right sizes for clothing. He says that the method has never failed him.

He now measures clothes simply by feeling the size of the customer’s palm. By multiplying the size of the palm he is able to figure out the right sizes for clothing. He says that the method has never failed him.

Over the years, Abdallah’s has perfected his craft and today he boasts a roll call of clients that include former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and several members of parliament.

Abdallah now spends his free hours mentoring and passing his skills to other young and visually impaired people in Dar es Salaam as part of a program organized by the Tanzania Trade Development Authority.

“I don’t want my fellows just to sit in the streets, but to do like me. Because it is possible! I started this work because otherwise, I would catch diseases by sitting still, and I wanted to make myself independent. I wanted to be a role model.”

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