At ABCNJ’s Annual Session last September I presented an idea to our churches entitled, "Supporting Sierra stitch by stitch" (abbreviated as "The 4S Project"). The call was put out for our ABCNJ family to consider purchasing treadle sewing machines (the old-fashioned pedal-type machines) for the Sierra Community Churches in Rwanda as part of a women’s empowerment program. The Sierra Community Churches is a new association of Baptist churches in Rwanda with whom ABCNJ has begun a relationship. My hope was to be able to send funds for 2 sewing machines for each of the ten churches in the association. Each pair cost $400 and provided both a "simple" and "knitting" machine, allowing for a wider range of creations to be generated.
The response was overwhelming. We received funds from churches, outside organizations, and private individuals – including a cashier at Old Navy who heard what I was doing and felt compelled to help, a soldier in the army who handed me $300.00 after seeing photos of the women, and a director of a surgical center in New Brunswick who likes to sew.
Today I received word that the first set of twenty machines has been purchased and distributed to the churches, just a few short months after the project was announced. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen so quickly, but we did it!
We see this only as a beginning. As more donations come in we now have the opportunity to purchase additional machine. With these extra machines the project can be expanded into the formation of sewing centers where the women can come and not only learn how to sew but also how to read and write. This will enable them to fill out purchase orders, sales receipts, and apply for government loans. They will also receive training about health care, proper nutrition, and HIV/AIDS prevention.
What an amazing opportunity for these women. Know that you are making a difference in their lives. Thank you so much for supporting The 4S Project!
[gallery type="slideshow" ids="11120,11121"]