Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU!!!!

African fabric in one of the huge warehouses in Bukavu.

We did it! The Bukavu Women’s Trauma Healing and Care Center will have a total of 10 new treadle sewing machines, AND the second, more spacious room. Thank you!

This means so much. Not only will there be enough machines to teach sewing, but the more advanced seamstresses now have the opportunity to sew for income and slowly begin to support themselves.

The smaller space can be used as a store where the crocheted items, soap, and libayas are displayed for sale. It can also be used as a fitting room and counseling office/computer room (they multi-space in Congo, maybe all Africa). Then part of the profits can go toward covering the Center’s ongoing outlay, such as administrative costs, paying the sewing teacher and counselor, and the electricity.

I’ll be returning in July to see how things are working out. Then after seven months we will know how successful this plan is, what works and what improvements can be made. Hopefully the Center will be reaching self-sufficiency by then, which is their long-term goal and seems possible, given their good track record and a little help from their friends.

I want to thank the donors who have given of themselves to make this dream happen for the women. It is an answer to their prayers, literally. I plan to name each machine for its donor, so we will have two Jills, a Lisa, two Caras, and a Carol. I love it! I love you guys for supporting them through me. Helping people is so much fun!

Our 3-day UNICEF workshop in Goma* was postponed until later, so I will be able to meet with the women before the grand opening and graduation ceremony on April 19th. We have not yet named the larger space, but at our meeting tomorrow, I plan to ask the women what they want to call it: the “Salon de ________” or something else entirely. Naming the machines and rental space may sound silly, but the women are uplifted by the fact that people on the other side of the world want to help them. Healing is furthered by knowing that someone has compassion for your suffering.

I’m wondering if the donors would like to send me individual pictures to show the women, so they will know you are real people, just like them only a different color and a long way away.

Oh, my cousin wrote and asked about having a garment made from African fabric and sent back to the US. I had considered this possibility, so I am having a libaya made for myself to see if this is feasible regarding quality. Let me know if you are interested in having something made; I could bring items back in a second suitcase this August.

More fabric . . . notice the coordinating prints.

I want you to see the African dress models I found on a chart at the sewing center. Pretty wild. I chose the one on bottom row, fourth from the left, that has a collar around the neck and open back. Am also wondering if the teacher couldn’t use simple western designs with African fabic, or just make mumus. . . and men’s shirts, too. I know Ambassador Dennis in Australia has ordered several for himself.

If you wanted to donate a sewing machine, you can still contribute to the Center itself. Since it is not yet self-sufficient and has no source of income other than individual donations, there are still monthly costs to cover; taking that pressure off would allow them to focus on training the women and developing the store. They would love small monthly pledges, if you wanted to give that way. Thanks again all you big-hearted people.

*Note: For those of you following the news, in DR Congo, we did not go to Goma as planned and thus missed the airplane crash. Not to worry, I am safe. Would have taken the boat anyway.

With love and much gratitude,

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