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Throwback Thursday: “A Sewing Machine Gives New Life”


Editor’s Note: In celebration of our 25th year of preparing and supporting lay missioners, we look back to our archives at a World Care newsletter from 1993 with an article from returned missioner Brigite Taylor from Class Two serving in Peru and Honduras from 1992-1994. This article was written during her time serving in Honduras.

By God’s Spirit I believe I am planted here to organize and work with women—so that they can discover the Spirit alive and powerful in their mutual care and perseverance.

The first group I organized is here in Santa Gertrudis parish. We started with a community garden which ended up as chicken feed. That’s right, the chickens would go into the garden and eat all of the seedlings—we couldn’t get the materials to make a chicken-proof fence! Several discouraged women left, but a core for five (Maria Teresa, Amanda, Maria, Rosa, and Rosa’s daughter, Nancy) have been working together for almost a year now.

Their mutual goal is to learn a skill and create and better financial situation for their family. This gives them the courage and motivation to go on. After praying and discussing at several meetings they decided they wanted to learn how to sew, and see if they could make a living that way. Sewing is definitely a needed skill here, for their clothes were falling apart and usually pinned or tied together.

We needed to purchase a machine. How could we raise money without resources? We had nothing

The answer came to me one day when I was saying the Rosary: we could make and sell rosaries! My friends in the Medjugorie prayer group from my hometown in Pennsylvania had sent me packages of colored cord and beads. So we began and, little by little, we saved the money.

By mid-April the women had their own pedal-operated machine and were happily mending clothes.

Although we were sewing, we were without patterns and almost no material. So I tried making a dress pattern on my own, and one of the women made, and sold, the first dress—to the surprise of both of us!

In the beginning, the group doubted that they could raise enough money to but their machine. In fact, they doubted that there was any possibility for them to succeed at anything. They had little confidence in themselves or in the group. Now they recognize that they can accomplish something on their own. During the times when they feel helpless, they remind each other of the symbol of their power. They are women who accomplished the sewing machine!

My second group was started when some other women and single mothers realized that goals could be achieved when united and working together. They also live in Santa Gertrudis and they, too, want a sewing machine. I wonder about this, because there just won’t be enough business for two groups. I am hoping that they will slowly realize this and decide to go for an oven instead!

We prepare and support lay Catholics for two-year international, one-year domestic and 1-2 week short-term mission service opportunities in solidarity with impoverished and marginalized communities across the globe.

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