The Sewing Machine Project grew from the idea of The
Foundation helping to “mend communities”. A collection of treadle sewing machines began in 2010 in Colorado under former administrator Pamela Solman. By July 2012 17 machines had arrived, crated, at La Hatte school, Ile a Vache.
Incoming admin Mandy Thody who has a background in sewing, arts, and craft in the 3rd World, assembled 12 of the machines with 3 young men from the village who are interested in mechanics, and was able in 8 days to have the first class with 9 women, 2 of whom immediately became the teachers of our sewing program, Madame Immacula and Madame Violet! In the same year we received a grant to run an 18 month course where the sewing incentivizes the literacy component for any woman in the village who wants to learn to read and sew.
Two different groups of ladies have developed, those who could already read (some of whom had also previously learnt embroidery at Sister Flora's Orphanage an hour walk away), and those who needed both literacy skills and manual sewing such as our school cook, who is so excited to have this opportunity! The course is continually running in 3 month increments, and two young ladies have graduated to becoming the teachers of our new class for girls 11 and older, in the afternoons after school. Thus the program provides 4 or more small salaries, free fabric and supplies to all participants, and valuable skills.
New sewing machines, some electric, and a generator, are currently en route to the project from the Virgin Islands, as the antique machines finish their useful lives. A young man from the village has started a 2 year course to become a mechanic for us, paid for by our donors. Embroidered tray-cloths and other items are available for sale in St Croix USVI at our regular coffee-mornings for GSF. The community also benefits from income produced by the sewing of school uniforms for local children. GSF was able to donate the fabric for all children in our school to have uniforms for 2014-2015, many of which were sewn by class members and teachers.