APRIL 9, 2020

Dear friends,

Thank you SEW much for your continued support through this challenging time; it is even more difficult than many of us could have imagined from just a few weeks ago. Your generous donations and purchases have allowed us to:

  • buy buckets and soap for all our seamstresses who are without plumbing and running water in their homes.
  • send fabric and patterns so that our participants can learn how to make face masks for their families and friends. Not all have access to a sewing machine, so we have been able to coordinate the distribution of fabric, needles and thread for hand sewing.
  • continue to pay into the public health insurance system so that our participants and their dependent children have access to healthcare.

As of May 9th, Kenya remains on a nationwide lock-down; and all schools and non-essential businesses are closed. With the Kenyan government’s aggressive response to the virus through stay-at-home restrictions, bans on cash-use and the enforcement of strict social-distancing orders, we are hopeful that their curve will flatten soon so as to not overwhelm their already taxed healthcare system before they have access to potential therapies and a vaccine.

Our sewing workshops are closed, and shipping has been suspended. The labor market is currently at a standstill, and the seamstresses find themselves in a very vulnerable position, unable to provide for basic needs such as food for their families.

Selling products and putting donations to work enables our seamstresses to earn an income and support their families. As amazing and versatile as the Enkiteng Bags are, it has never been about the bags. Enkiteng Bags are all about the women who make them, women who summon the courage to learn new skills, who become emboldened as they see a path to self-sufficiency. Our participants work hard (and sometimes, risk everything) to defy norms in order to escape the cycle of poverty — and inspire us in return. All of us at Seeds to Sew feel compelled to work hard for them.

We have been hesitant to ask for help, as we recognize the dire needs here in our own backyard. We have no desire to take away from the resources scarcely available to the healthcare professionals, frontline workers and local businesses who are also trying to survive. But, we are encouraged by those of you who have asked “what can I do?” and thus have decided to share ideas on how you can help our seamstresses to sustain themselves through this uncertain period, when they find themselves without resources, income or help from their government.

  • Donate to our “Resilience Fund” if you are able (No amount is too small, as the dollar stretches far in our program areas. $5.00 can feed a family for a week. 100% of your donation will be dispersed directly to the seamstresses.)
  • Shop on our website (Many items are available for purchase, by local drop off or shipment via UPS or USPS.)
  • Share photos of our products on your social media (either photos of products you purchased before, or feel free to share our previous posts)

Or, if none of the above feels quite right, or if you or someone you know needs assistance, access CNN’s Guide to Helping and Getting Help during the Coronavirus Crisis.

We know that these are challenging times for so many of us. We wish you peace, solidarity, and the gifts of good health and love.

The Seeds to Sew Team


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.


The Seeds to Sew Team