Why do we care so much about sewing in the developing world? It’s been a long journey. Here are a few of the milestones…
Honduras – on one of Jason’s first trips with World Vision he met Maria, a mother of a young boy with Down Syndrome. Her story was heart-breaking and instructive. She had a simple problem – her son was getting close to school age, and the local school had no ability to assist with his special needs. She needed to get him into a special school on the other side of town each day, but she was very poor. As a micro-enterprise opportunity, World Vision helped her purchase a sewing machine and set up a sewing business. She had her small home filled with stacks of clothes. Her specialty had become gym shorts and tank tops and she sold a lot. With the money she was able to send her son to the special school, and make a better life for her family. It was a simple solution.
Years later in South Africa we met a group of women who were faced with a difficult situation. They were the only ladies in their community that could care for an orphaned baby boy. They decided to raise him together, but they were confronted with a challenge – they were totally broke. The solution? World Vision provided them with a sewing machine and supplies – so they could sew & sell in order to generate enough money to care for the boy. They made beautiful blankets, and they earned enough to keep him well cared for. Their small cooperative served it’s purpose well, and the ladies and their boy were happy.
In Romania we met women who worked 12 hour days in a sewing factory – for exclusive Italian designers. They earned just $100 a month, but the train fair was $30 a month. So for a month of work, they only brought home $70. Factory work wasn’t the answer. They needed their own sewing machine, their own small business opportunity. We became passionate about making that a reality.
Then there is Zambia. In Zambia we met Esther Mkandawire. At the time she is trying to support 475 orphans in a poor community known as Ngombe – since then that number has increased to over 1,200. Her and the community caregivers that help her work hard to make sure the children are safe and fed, but there is simply no money to do anything more. They asked us if we could help them set up a sewing course and a sewing cooperative so that they could sew & sell as a way to generate income. Empowering their sewing cooperative has become our obsession.
Finally there was Dixon California. In 2008 we needed to make an extra $1,000 a month to help pay our bills, so we decided to build a business around Cinnamon’s design and sewing skills. Liberty Jane Clothing was born. Now it is growing quickly and we are incredibly grateful for the blessings we’ve been given. In 2013 we launched Pixie Faire, the largest doll clothes pattern marketplace on the Internet. If circumstances were different, and Cinnamon was in any one of these countries, trying to grow a sewing business, we would have had a much harder time. Sew Powerful is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to God for his incredible blessings in our lives.
Through all these experiences we’ve become convinced that empowering seamstresses is what we’re destined to do.
We hope you’ll decide to join us on this exciting adventure.
Jason & Cinnamon Miles