Imagine life without the hope of ever being able to send all of your children to school (or even to send more than 1 per year to school), to live in a place with electricity or running water (even clean water), to sleep in a bed with a mattress rather than on a mat on dirt floor, to ever learn a skill or trade or even have a steady job (rather than making $1 per day working in fields.) Women are living this way every day in the rural villages of Rwanda. Many have been abandoned by their husbands and left to feed and care for their children alone. In many cases, they are also caring for other children in the village that have no one else.
Meet a few of these women: Marie: Widowed with 2 children, third grade education Fabiola: Single, 20 years old, 5 siblings, sixth grade education Jeannette: Mother of 4 children, abandoned by her husband, sixth grade education Joyce: Married, two children, husband seeks day-to-day work, she has a first grade education. Gloriosa: Mother of 5 children, husband has difficulty finding work due to handicap. She has a third grade education Sephora: One child, no husband, no parents, no siblings, no support systems. She has fifth grade education Florence: Married, mother of three, disabled from a severe accident, third grade education Clementine: Walked 2 hours to school each morning and 2 hours back home each evening for the opportunity to learn to sew!
I have become involved in a Christian ministry named Love Alive International that is changing the lives of many of these women. My friend, Laura Yockey, has moved to Rwanda and has many projects and ministry opportunities to show the love of Jesus to the people she encounters in Rwanda. One of my favorite ministries is the SEAM (Sewing Education and Mentoring) program which teaches women to sew.
The SEAM mission is to establish sewing centers and schools to teach women how to sew, to supply the tools to improve their skills, to provide support and a “safe place” to talk with other women going through the same hardships, to help them develop a sense of pride at their accomplishments and to show them the love of Jesus!
How it works: Selection: Each woman applies for the class and is personally interviewed. The requirements and expectations are explained and she must agree to attend class and do her best for 1 full year. If, after
1 year, she has completed all the work and has shown the proficient skill set, she will graduate and be given a Sewing Business Starter Kit so she can start generating income for her family immediately.
Kit includes: Sewing Machine (Cost $125- includes machine, transport and assembly by technician) Fabric (Cost $25 – to allow her to sew sample/display items showing her capabilities) Tool kit (Cost $50 – includes scissors, sewing box, iron, buttons, thread, pins, elastic, oil for machine, measuring tape, needles and chalk) TOTAL COST $200
Funding for Kit: Sponsorships are provided for each woman in the sewing class by people like you and me.
To date, the SEAM project has hosted 2 graduations (Dec. 2014 and July 2015) with 25 graduates, and we are expecting approximately 35 graduates in December 2015!
Here are some pictures of women in the class as well as a group of graduates and their Sewing Kit. One woman is modeling clothes she made as well as a bag for her sponsor.
I have sponsored several of these women from previous graduations, and each of them has expressed such gratitude for the love, support and confidence that a sponsor provides. They know that you believe they can be successful.
Their notes of thanks to the sponsors showed such joy — here are samples from a few notes:
“I am so thankful from my heart for the good things you have done for us, for caring about us and taking care of us. We truly thank you for what we have achieved through you. We wanted to achieve
but we were unable to do it without you. Truly God knows all! I have so many things in my heart I wish to share with you. “
“We have finished the class and are thrilled beyond words to express. We invite you to come visit us and see our work and skills.”
“I will continue striving to better my knowledge and skills.”
“Your assistance will greatly help me and my family. I will use my new skill to advance and improve my life. You have helped me achieve much.”
We are in need of sponsors for the December 2015 graduation and I am inviting you to be part of this wonderful ministry with me. I can promise you that every dollar you send (all 100 cents of that dollar) will go toward the ministry.
We have so very much and these women have so little – not because they are not willing to learn and work hard, but simply because they have not had the opportunity in the place where they were born. If you are able to help give another woman a chance at a life that she has only been able to dream about before now, please consider sponsoring a woman. You can sponsor on-line at http://www.lovealiveinternational.com (note: SEAM sponsor in comments) or mail a check for $200 to Love Alive International, 2410 Burgess School Rd., Cookeville, TN 38506 and reference SEAM sponsor on the MEMO line.
You can read more about Love Alive and other projects that Laura is managing on the Love Alive International website. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Love Alive via the “Contact Us” link on the website.
God is working through Love Alive in many ways in Rwanda, and I am so excited that He led me to this ministry!
Guest Blog by Teresa Cooper