Women’s Day of Sewing

One of the early goals Sherry had when planning this trip was to set up a day when the two women from Mount Olive would join with women from our companion congregation in Kijota to do a sewing service project.  For many months, the sewing day was put on the itinerary for Friday October 5, but the details were unknown.  Sherry tried to arrange things via e-mail, but due to many circumstances – not least of which is that the leaders of the congregation do not have e-mail! – the project itself was not known before we arrived, and the number of participants and the kind of equipment they would have to work with was unknown as well. 

In our first meeting once we arrived in Sengida, the district staff told Sherry that the women of Kijota would be there for the sewing day (still, unknown numbers and equipment) and that they were counting on Sherry to bring the project, including any fabric and other materials. 

Sherry and Karen immediately started planning, and decided on two projects: making stoles for the graduating pastors from Kiomboi, and making stuffed dogs for the children we were scheduled to see the next day at the Center for Vulnerable Children.  (More on that in a separate post.)

Sherry and Karen stayed up late into the night before the event getting everything ready, and then we headed to Kijota.  When we arrived, on Friday October 5, we found about 50 women gathered to participate in the Sewing Day! 

While the Kijota women waited -- the Tanzanians seem to be a very patient people -- the Travelers organized the fabric and other materials.

None of the Kijota women knew English (at least not well) so Sherry and Karen got tremendous help from a young district staff woman named Faraja.  With her translating, Sherry began the process of instructing small groups on parts of the task.  

Some were on the four sewing machines which the people of the church had been able to gather from the community (it’s still not clear who owned them, though it’s probable that at least one of the member women brought hers).

Others were set to cutting things, whether in the same room as the sewing machines,

Or in the next room (part of the sanctuary), guided by Karen.

Part of the process was ironing the fabric, which was a task eagerly taken on by a young woman who was also in charge of a baby belonging to another of the women.

The project started coming together and, though they hadn’t really understood what they were making when things got started (all they had was a hand-drawn pattern Sherry had created, and none of them are accustomed to using patterns – if they are accustomed to sewing at all) but they began to see when Sherry demonstrated.

After a number of the steps for the stoles were underway, the women started a second project – stuffed felt Scottie dogs.  This project only required cutting out felt, hand sewing, and stuffing fiber fill.  The women who were not yet involved in the other project quickly got into the dog project.

Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and once that many hands were at work, it wasn't too long before the whole set of dogs were finished.

As a way of saying Thank You Very Much (which is said "asante sana" in Swahili), Sherry and Karen presented each of the women with a tote bag, which had been made by Mount Olive members for the "God's Work; Our Hands" day.

By the end of the day, all the people from Kijota were amazed that so much could be accomplished, with just a little teaching and the organization Sherry and Karen provided.  And clearly, during the process, new friendships were forged – which is exactly the kind of result we hoped for when we planned the trip.  What a special day!

While the women were doing their service day, the Traveler men had another adventure, but that is a story for another blog entry.


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