Skip to content

Purse Project - Former

The Sew Powerful Purse Program Details

Our priority shipping dates are the last Monday of every month. We’d love to have you make a purse! 

Seamstresses Needed

Join Us From Anywhere In The World, Start Today!

Step 1, Download The Purse Pattern & Make Purses

We’d love your help with our program designed to keep girls in school all month and provide jobs to seamstresses in Lusaka. Be sure to read all the details and download the Cross Body Purse pattern to begin making purses. It is a printable PDF file so you can begin using the pattern right now. Make as few or as many purses as you’d like. Take your time and make them as nice as possible. We want quality purses! To learn more about how these purses create academic achievement in Zambia be sure to watch our videos and learn about the issue of Menstrual Hygiene Management. The girls like cute and colorful purses. If you need help with the pattern be sure to watch our free sew-along training video. If you prefer a beginner level purse pattern, you can download it here.

Step 2, Download The Note Card

Download the encouragement card and include a kind greeting in your purse. Write something special to the girl who will receive your work. Maybe a poem, scripture verse, prayer, or word of encouragement. These cards are an important part of the program and each girl looks with anticipation in the purse to see what the sender has written – make it special!

Step 3, Spread The Word On Social Media

Share this project on Facebook, Tumblr, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and yes – even in actual conversations! Follow our Facebook Page and join our Facebook Group. Get excited and show you care about keeping girls in school by telling everyone they need to get onboard with the program and sew some purses!

Step 4, Mail your completed purses any time.

We are happy to receive your completed purses any time. Each month we conduct a live 'unboxing party' on the last Monday of the month. Be sure to join our newsletter to receive updates on those events. Of course we are happy to receive them all year long if you miss the priority deadline.

Step 5, Give $5 For Each Purse You Make To Fill The Purse With MHM Supplies (Optional But Greatly Needed)

It costs us about $5 to have the Sewing Cooperative fill the purse with all the supplies the girl needs. Your donation helps cover the cost of materials as well as the seamstresses time to sew the pads. It also covers the soap team costs. So we’d love your financial support. Give Now, (Note – please don’t put money or any gifts in the purses it causes all sorts of problems.). 

The Problem

In Zambia it’s the common cultural practice in both poor urban and remote village areas that girls stay home when they are on their period. This is because they don’t have a reliable product solution that they can afford. So to avoid the risk of social embarrassment – they simply stay home. Disposable products are not the solution because there is no garbage collection and the cost is an impossible barrier to overcome. A well made reusable product that replaces their traditional method is the best solution.

The Consequence

The 7th Grade Exam is a pivotal academic test in Zambia. When we started our program in 2014, the girls failed to pass the exam at more than 10% higher rate than boys. Based on our data, there is a real problem that can be measured. If a student (either girl or boy) doesn’t pass the 7th Grade Exams, they cannot go to Secondary School (what we call High School in the U.S.) and their academic career is over. There is no ‘remedial high school’ or back-up plan. They are done with school forever. We are working hard to close this gap. 

Our Solution

Our Lusaka based sewing cooperative makes reusable feminine hygiene products (as well as school uniforms and soap). We call these our “Purposeful Products.”These moms, aunties, and grandmas making these items are the heroes of our story. Their work is impacting their community for the better. Through our program they are paid for their work so they do well by doing good. In addition to sewing the pads and making the soap, they coordinate health class training and purse distributions with local teachers so girls can receive the items they need to manage their period. This is not a one-time dump and run effort, where girls get something and then in the future cannot get more. Our program is a long-term collaboration with the schools. When girls receive a purse they take The Sew Powerful Pledge – and promise to stay in school all month if they receive a purse filled with supplies. We ask seamstresses around the world to help support the program by making the most amazing and beautiful purses - because the girls deserve the best. The purse is the perfect delivery method for the pads, soap, and underwear. You can also support the program financially and advocate for the program in your social network. Together we really are Sew Powerful! How many purses have we collected so far? 

2014: 504

2015: 1,619

2016: 3,688

2017: 6,383

2018: 8,512

2019: 12,750

2020: 20,798

Can A Purse Really Transform A Girl’s Life?

The purses you provide are used in local schools and clinics in Lusaka Zambia as part of Menstration Hygiene Management (MHM) programs. This simple gift – combined with re-usable sanitary pads and health information can make a tremendous difference in the lives of adolescent girls. Read about our Sew Powerful Purse Project here. Our ministry partners work hard to educate and inform the girls in their community so that they stay in school and grow in confidence and self-esteem. It really is sew powerful!



Education is the most effective investment socially and economically for a nation. Did you know: 

  • Girls in rural Africa generally stay home from school while they are on their period.
  • It’s been documented they miss up to six weeks of school each year – a massive systematic disadvantage. 
  • ZanaAfrica has reported that providing sanitary pads and MHM training reduces absenteeism by 75%.


Girls in developing countries have a lack of materials, services, and facilities to help them manage their periods resulting in many school dropouts. Did you know:

  • Girls that drop out of school before completing a secondary education have a 40% pregnancy rate.
  • Educated women have 3.9 children on-average compared to 5.3 children for those who drop out.
  • A girl in secondary school is 4 times less likely to be HIV-positive than one who drops out.

Self Esteem

Girls of all ages and in all countries deal with challenges to their self esteem. And in cases of extreme poverty the challenges are even more complex. Did you know:

  • When a purse is used strategically as part of a MHM – it gives girls a new-found confidence.
  • A purse is a simple item, but having a personal keepsake – something that you consider your private space – something that was a gift from a caring friend – can mean a lot to a young girl, empowering her to have higher self esteem.