Threads That Connect Us: Afghan Women's Sewing Circle
Afghan Women’s Sewing Circle - since early February we began offering free sewing classes in Blacktown for a group of 20 Afghan women who arrived in Sydney late last year. This project has come together through partnerships with community leaders, the Afghan Community Support Association (ACSA) and CORE Community Services.
After all the restrictions on 2021, we are beyond thrilled to be running four brand new community programs and the Afghan Women’s Sewing Circle is one especially close to our hearts! The classes came about when a community leader – Hogai contacted us, asking if we could help support this group of recently arrived women, some of whom have tailoring experience.
We jumped at the chance to work together looping in a couple of other partner organisations to support with access to a community hall, nearby to the Blacktown Mosque (thanks ACSA!) and sewing machines (thanks CORE!) with The Social Outfit providing our projects team and two sewing trainers, including our Production Manager Joucelen and Marzia, one of our Afghan Sewing Technicians.
In consultation with the community, we have developed an 8-week program that would be easily accessible for the women, designed to offer free sewing classes to support social connectedness and contribute to a more positive settlement experience, while teaching basic textile construction and sewing.
The group bring a diverse range of skills with some of the women learning to use a sewing machine for the first time, some are learning to cut and others are using the time to develop and work on their own projects with resources and support from our team.
These weekly classes offer a stepping stone with pathways to build and consolidate skills suited to women interested in furthering their abilities in sewing with a view to progressing into TSO's earn and learn programs and growing their experience in textile manufacturing.
Marzia, who arrived from Afghanistan four years ago is assisting Joss with the classes. She says, “I feel very good for us to support these women because they need help. They need everything because Australia is a new country for them. Some of them know each other and are staying in the same hotel and they can bring their children with them because we have childcare. My job is to help them learn, some of them don't know how to thread a sewing machine so I will help them and when they don't know the name of something like a bobbin, I can translate.”
Joss shares, “The experience has been challenging but very fulfilling. It’s amazing to see these women who’ve come from such a volatile environment, take pleasure in making themselves a new garment. We’re working with absolute beginners all the way through to skilled tailors. Everyone needs a different kind of support, but we’re working with them to help realise their vision for what they each want to make.”
We’re providing fabrics and trims to the women and are looking to source some domestic machines to donate to them so they can work on their projects at home. If you have a machine you are no longer using please get in touch by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org!