March 20, 2020

Dear friends,

With the current pandemic impacting lives throughout the world, we are thinking of all of you, our wonderful friends, supporters and especially the participants in our Programs in rural Kenya.

Schools in Kenya are now officially closed, so the girls in our programs are home from school. Unfortunately, similar to situations here in America, home is not always the safest place to be, as school provides meals, a place to study, and at boarding schools, a safe bed to sleep in. Social norms—such as expectations that women and girls are responsible for doing domestic chores and nursing sick family members—can expose women and girls to greater health risks. In addition to the care-giving burden, social norms in some contexts dictate that women and girls are the last to receive medical attention when they become ill, which could hinder their ability to receive timely care for COVID-19, should they become infected. Sometimes, the anxiety associated with limited food, loss of income, and restricted mobility can increase incidences of domestic violence and coercive control. We are afraid that many girls and women will be subject to more violence and will be in dire need of additional support.

As you go about your day, please remember to reach out to those who may be vulnerable. Sometimes a video-chat or phone call can help to lift spirits, interrupt an otherwise threatening situation or provide an opportunity to help. The social distancing need not prevent a check-in phone call. Pay special attention to what is ‘not’ being said.

For those in the US, there is a national hotline for those who are subject to domestic violence. https://www.thehotline.org/ or call 1-800-799-7233 or text “LOVEIS” to 22522.

For our friends and participants in Kenya, all beading, sewing and crafting has stopped until further notice, so that our participants can do their part of helping flatten the curve by social distancing. We are exploring the possibility of having some of our participants (those who have sewing machines at home) learn to sew face masks with our donated fabric. (They won’t be N95 approved, but they may be better than nothing!) We are doing all that we can to be creative, to sustain their income, ensure their safety and preserve their health.

We’re forever grateful for those of you who have shopped on our online store. While our Hopewell storefront remains closed at this time, we are still fulfilling orders. Thank you. We’ll never be able to express our gratitude properly; your support is immensely appreciated.

If you would like to make face masks for yourselves or others but don’t have a sewing machine, please e-mail us and we’ll be happy to loan you one for the time being. Local pickup in Pennington or Hopewell, NJ. We have at least 6 machines that were donated to us by our wonderful supporters and we’d be thrilled to know they’re being put to good use before we have a chance to send them to Kenya. We will gladly share some of our training fabric with you as well if you need it. HERE is a link to a tutorial how to make a face mask.

These are hard times for all of us and the uncertainty of how long it will last is probably the worst part. Please take good care of yourselves, others in your households and please stay safe and healthy.

Our thoughts are with all of you.

Thank you for your support. We’ll make it through this together.

Love,

The Seeds to Sew Team

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