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Empowering Women With Sewing Machines

Empowering Women With Sewing Machines

Empowering Women With Sewing Machines

Why Is Empowering Local Women So Important In Combating Poverty?

Sunshine is streaming through the striped window curtains on the top floor of the newly completed Sew Powerful sewing co-op building in Lusaka, Zambia. It's early morning, and the seamstresses have reported to work for another busy day of stitching reusable feminine hygiene pads—a crucial component of the resources gifted to teen girls in their health classes at school. The goal of gifting these handmade products is to break the poverty cycle by enabling the girls to complete their education, learn a life skill, and earn a living wage.

Many girls, however, fall through the cracks in developing countries like Zambia. It is the cultural norm in Zambia for girls to stay home from school when on their periods. There are limited resources to support impoverished girls during this time. The girls in Ngombe Compound, one of the sites where Sew Powerful serves, have no indoor plumbing. Clothing is washed outdoors in a big pot heated over an open fire. Disposable products such as women use in developed countries are too expensive and not practical, as there are no sanitation services in Ngombe. When girls stay home from school in keeping with this cultural norm, they miss quality instructional time and ultimately fail school exams at higher rates than boys, commonly dropping out of school altogether by 7th or 8th grade.

Research indicates that girls who stay in school marry later, have children later, are generally healthier, and are better able to provide for the needs of their children. Sew Powerful exists to help them achieve that end by training local women to stitch the reusable feminine hygiene pads and earn a living wage. The pads are given to girls along with underwear and soap in a beautiful purse made by volunteer seamstresses around the world.

Today, Esther Mkandawire stands before the seamstresses to make a big announcement: an anonymous donor has gifted more Juki industrial machines to the co-op. The women are jubilant, rising to their feet, dancing, and shouting. After a moment, their voices join in a song of thanks and praise to God. Their joy is contagious.

Giving The Right Tool For The Job Is The Right Strategy

These new industrial-style Juki machines have been purchased locally in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, and are delivered to Ngombe Compound by truck. Today, the Juki machines have arrived, and many assorted boxes are unloaded outside the new building. The delighted seamstresses gather in front of the sewing co-op building to help carry the various boxes upstairs to be assembled, installed, and tested. Listen to what the seamstresses are saying in this fun video:

Local Employment Can Create Long-Term Local Impact

What is the power of a sewing machine in Zambia? It means that a woman in poverty has the opportunity to learn a life skill, earn a living wage, and support her own needs as well as provide for her children. Our local seamstresses are so grateful for the gifts that empower them to not only earn a living wage but to make a valuable contribution to their community, changing the lives of others living in poverty. Observe the sewing co-op with the new Juki machines in operation here:

Donating Sewing Machines For Use In Africa

People frequently contact us to see if we will accept old sewing machines for use in Africa. We always encourage them to sell the machine locally at a yard sale, on eBay, or Craigslist, and then donate the money to us. It's much simpler, more efficient, and honestly results in us being able to help the women in Zambia with the right machines for the job. We want to change lives, but we also want to be wise stewards - and think carefully about every aspect of our program. The women in our program experience a huge transformation in hope, and faith, lifestyle, and their belief that they can be used by God to impact their local community for the better. You can be a part of this life-changing opportunity. Support the sewing co-op today by giving a gift of any amount here:

More About Peggy Creighton: Peggy holds a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology and is the author of several books and numerous magazine articles in the Library Media and Instructional Technology field. She retired from education in 2013, and now spends time sewing, quilting, crafting, writing, and enjoying her grandchildren. She serves as SE Area Manager for Sew Powerful and as an admin for the Sew Powerful Purse Project group on Facebook.

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