By: Vicki Xie and Catherine Zhang
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. But what about the women?
Seeds to Sew International, Inc. is a non-profit organization which aspires to improve the lives of women in underdeveloped communities through education and job skills training. These women are often subject to do-mestic abuse from their guardians or husbands, including atrocities such as genital mutilation.
The organization, founded by Ellyn Ito, is currently based in two farming villages in Kenya. By teaching women and girls in these communities basic sewing and personal finance skills, Seeds to Sew aims to create new opportunities and educate participants about local laws, their basic rights and the rights of their children allowing the women to advocate for themselves as their income and stature in their community grows.
Those participating in the programs are given the opportunity to pay for their school related fees by selling handmade, environmentally-friendly products through Seeds to Sew’s business partnerships. These products include Enkiteng wrapping bags, Enkisoma beaded jewelry, and other crafts made of natural materials.
When asked about her experience with the organization, operations manager Nina Moukova said, “The most rewarding aspect of our work is the direct impact on the lives of women and girls that our programs make. We have seen first hand, that with education, skills, positive self-esteem, and the ability to generate income, women are better able to provide for their families, which raises their stature in the community.”
Regarding plans for the future, Moukova states, “We are focused on driving the sales of the products made by the women in our programs and establishing a supply chain, so that we can invite more women and girls to participate in our sewing, beading and craft-making programs.”
So how can you help? You can support the women in the programs and purchase their products at local shops, such as Chance on Main in Pennington, Sticks & Stones Toy Shop, Ebb Studio in Hopewell, and Pennington Market, or in the online store Wearable Justice. Seeds to Sew also has their own shop at 16 Seminary Avenue in Hopewell, where you can buy products and drop off donations.
HVCHS students are currently raising money to purchase 2 knitting machines ($300 each), 2 sewing machines ($200 each), and supplies for the women in the new program site in Nyanchonori, Kenya. The women who will work on the machines will be making school uni-forms, sweaters and couch covers which they will be able to sell. The money they make will then allow them to buy a plot of land, cows, goats, hygiene products, and will allow their children to receive an education.
HVCHS students plan to give these supplies to the women directly when they travel to Kenya in July of 2016. This effort will change many lives in the Kenyan community, and will be a profound experience for students. If you’d like to support this effort, please go to https://www.gofundme.com/seedstosewlaunch. Seeds to Sew would like to extend a huge thank-you to donors in advance! For more information about Seeds to Sew, call (609)-564-0441 or send them an email at [email protected]. You can also find them on Facebook, Instagram, or at www.seedstosew.org