When my friend Christine announced she and a church group were taking a short trip to Mbonisweni, South Africa to work alongside Ten Thousand Homes, I got very excited. Ten Thousand Homes is “a movement of ordinary people actively building HOPE and creating HOMES for Africa’s orphans and vulnerable children”. I thought it would be great to make some clothes for the orphans. I had enough ho hum fabric in my supply to make some garments, but I didn’t want to use that for charity sewing. I wanted to use bright, colorful fabric that still looked good after a dozen washings. I knew my favorite fabric designer, Jennifer Paganelli (of Sis Boom Fabrics) had donated to a charity called “Dress a Girl Around the World”, so I asked her if she would be interested in donating some of her fabric so I could make clothing to send along with Christine. Jennifer immediately mailed me over 15 yards from her most recent lines.
I was just about to cut into that glorious fabric, when Christine told me about an opportunity to help a South African woman named Gloria. Gloria is a mother of four who sews to support her family. She is highly creative, and has wanted to learn to sew since childhood. She recalls making clothing for her doll from bits of plastic and whatever she could find. Anneke, a missionary with Ten Thousand Homes, offered to teach her how to sew, and when she left the country, she gave her sewing machine to Gloria. Since then, Gloria has been primarily sewing bags, bibs, and baby shoes, as well as taking commissions from members of her community. She doesn’t waste a bit of fabric, and often pieces odds and ends together in patchwork. She dreams of one day being a designer and having her own boutique. She has taught her son how to sew and hopes to teach others.
When I learned about Gloria, I decided it would be better to give her the fabric Jennifer Paganelli had donated. I really had been looking forward to working with that lovely material, but it seemed clear to me that investing in a businesswoman could help the community of Mbonisweni more than a one-time gift of children’s clothing could. Jennifer thought that giving the fabric directly to Gloria was a wonderful idea, as well. I packed up some sewing supplies and patterns along with the Sis Boom fabric and shipped them to Christine, who carried them with her to South Africa.
Gloria was “so happy and grateful” to receive the fabric and sewing supplies, thinks the material is “BEAUTIFUL” and will use it all and not waste a scrap. She told Christine to please thank Jennifer so much for donating such a large amount of wonderful material to her.
Everyone who knows me knows I am just a wee bit addicted to Sis Boom fabrics (sometimes I wonder if I need an intervention, but no-one give me one, okay?), and it was lovely to help a woman an ocean away get to enjoy some, too. I was thrilled to play a small part in encouraging the dreams of another seamstress. Thank you, Jennifer, for your sweet generosity, and thank you, Christine, for lugging a suitcase full of sewing supplies across the world with you!
To learn more about how to help others like Gloria, check out this link:
Photo credits: Jennifer Price and Christine Reinhardt