2023 WRAP-UP, 2024 PLANS
During the COVID period, it has been hard to maintain our workshops and our training programs; however, during 2023, we were able to get things started again, and we have some interesting plans for 2024.
The container packed by Rotary Donations in Kind Vic. ( DIK ) , finally got away in November. SewAid filled about 1/3 rd of this 40′ container with a wide range of goods for our projects in Kiribati. This included 14 new sewing machines and overlockers plus 30 good second-hand machines. Also included was a brand new Singer high-speed industrial and a high-speed industrial overlocker, along with a very large amount of fabric and sewing accessories. We also shipped wall units for storage, and DIK donated 12 tables and 30 chairs for us. We also shipped a large shipment of Days for Girls kits on behalf of Ryde DFG, and cases of school sports equipment donated by the Rotarian Mr. Doug Vincent.
Our part of the container freight cost us $6,000 as the freight cost to these small Pacific countries is very expensive. This container should arrive in January, and a SewAid training team visit in April 2024 will follow up. Many thanks to DIK Melbourne, who greatly helped us with this shipment.
Cambodia: Our sewing room at Sustainable Cambodia has only two sewers, but they have had a busy year, making and selling 1,600 Days for Girls kits. Now they are running low on Flannelette, so we are sending some with people visiting there in February; plus, we have sent 30 rolls to Melbourne to be shipped along with a shipment organised by a Rotary club in Melb. We bought them a new Juki Industrial this past year and serviced and repaired their other machines.
Nepal: In November, we gave $10,000 to the Didi Foundation in Nepal to buy new industrial machines for their sewing workshop. This foundation is run by an amazing Rotary friend, Jan Prior, and Jan has been asking me for years if we could send a teaching team some time. So, we have put this on our waiting list, and I know our volunteers will be keen to go to Nepal. Sandra and I did a lot of volunteer work in Nelpal 20 years ago, and we have great memories of our work there, as the people are so gentle and appreciative. Jan is planning to purchase the machines in February when she visits, and we will have some photos and more details after that.
Uganda: Early in 2023 we upgraded the machines at our workshop at the School of Life ( SFL) in Uganda. We bought three new high-speed industrial machines and a new high-speed overlocker for them. We purchased these from a local sewing machine shop in Kampala, which gave us good service by delivering the machines, assembling them and showing the sewers how to use and maintain them.
In July, we had Rotarian Doug Vincent from my Rotary club visit Uganda with his son, and the whole story of this very eventful visit is way too long for here. However, a lot was achieved in that Doug took five teachers from his Ambrose school project in Kenya, up to our SewAid workshop at the SFL in Uganda for two weeks of sewing training. This went extremely well, with the senior SFL sewing manager, Maureen Nabawsi, succeeding in teaching them to a reasonably high standard in just two weeks. SewAid assisted by paying the two weeks’ wages and purchasing some bedding and necessities for the accommodation.
However, the six new sewing machines and overlockers we had shipped over from Australia for Doug’s school in Kenya were stolen at one stage of the journey and finally arrived at SFL,but unfortunately, after the teachers had returned to Kenya. Anyway, good news: we have just heard that these machines and equipment have finally made their way from Uganda to the Ambrose school in Kenya, and the teachers there can finally start sewing !!
Sandra, Simon and I, very much enjoyed the special movie night held by the School for Life last month in Sydney. What Annabelle has achieved here for the children of Uganda is simply amazing. 2,500 students now !!! And it was great to see all those uniforms all made in our Sewaid workshop.
Congo (DRC): Penny has advised that the two new industrial Juki machines we bought recently are working out well. We also paid for a week’s training from a local expert, as it is too dangerous for us to contemplate sending a teacher team. The shipment of sewing accessories from Simon in Hong Kong arrived in November, and they have successfully commenced making the school bags for their new School Bag project.
SewAid is currently paying the rent for this SewAid workshop, plus supplying all the machines and equipment.
Also, in 2023, we supplied a new high-speed industrial sewing machine and a high-speed industrial overlocker to our SewAid workshop at Koriopeta. We purchased these from Glenn, the local sewing machine man in Lautoka, who gave us good service in installing the machines and teaching the sewers how to use and service them.
Congratulations to Rhonda and the team for completing three sewing courses for refugees on the Gold Coast during 2023. Unfortunately, our refugee program in Granville, Sydney, closed after just one course, as we could no longer use the Ukraine hall. However, as reported earlier, five of the twelve Ugandian ladies we taught have secured jobs with a sewing business in Sydney, which is a very satisfactory result, and I am sure the others are enjoying the skills they learned. We also gave all the students sewing machines for their use at home.
As mentioned above, we are sending a training team to Kiribati in April, and they will be there for two weeks. We will be setting up a permanent sewing workshop and training teachers who will continue to offer free sewing and craft courses.
We will also visit our SewAid workshop in Fiji on the way to Kiribati.
In February, we have fabric shipments planned for Cambodia and East Timor, and while no other team visits are planned as yet, perhaps in the 2nd half of 2024 we might be able to organise a 2nd team trip for 2024.
Once again, a big thanks to our volunteers and supporters and on behalf of the Sewaid team, I wish you all a Happy and Rewarding 2024.
Photos below: Click to enlarge
Bags and purses made at Sustainable Cambodia :
Sewing Classes in Sydney for Ukraine Refugees
Sewing Classes for Refugees in Queensland