Mending Hearts, Weaving Hope

Refugee Sewing Society

MENDING HEARTS, WEAVING HOPE

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BESsWelcome to the Refugee Sewing Society blog! 


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English Class

Posted on November 16, 2012 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (0)

I love to visit our English As A Second Language classroom!  Our ministry began in October 2011.  It's hard to believe we've been in action more than a year.  After some initial bumps, we now have a staff of excellent teachers who are committed to their students.


Joan Cooper has been co-teaching our beginner sewing class.  When she learned we had an opening in ESL, she volunteered to take the training offered by the Georgia Baptist Convention.  She sat in on a few classes before signing on for the 3-day-a-week job.  

Joan is one of the most patient teachers I've ever met.  

'Yarn Group' back in action after break

Posted on August 10, 2012 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (2)

The Refugee Sewing Society yarn group -- the ladies who meet every week to knit and crochet and weave -- reconvened this month after their summer break. They set to work making the beautiful items they are known for, including knitted scarves and woven purses that will be featured in this fall's World Relief Christmastime catalog. Recent donations of several looms make it likely that weaving -- a skill that several of our women brought from their homelands -- will grow in popularity among the ladies. Mainly we are just happy to have their familiar smiling faces back in our midst.


Woven "spirit bracelets" are selling like the proverbial hotcakes at our markets and in our newly expanded store in Clarkston International Bible Church. The "spirit" in the name reflects school spirit, as the bracelets can be custom-ordered in school colors. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit would work in the lives of everyone involved with the Refugee Sewing Society.


A member of the yarn group knits a "scrubby," the popular nylon scouring pad that is a must for everyone's kitchen sink. Refugee Sewing Society products can be viewed on our website at refugeesewingsociety.com.



Birth of a Store

Posted on July 29, 2012 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (1)

A volunteer team from Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, N.C., spent two days in Clarkston to help The Refugee Sewing Society move into its new store. From left are Colleen, Becky, Maggie, Emily, Tracy, Juliana, Jean, Linda, Anita and Sandy. These ladies are all very dear to us.


Amidst the relocation of the RSS store, a team of young people from Proskuneo Ministries dropped by to shop from temporary tables set up in the hallway. At left is RSS business director Anne Beach. Proskuneo, a neighbor of the RSS on the third floor of Clarkston International Bible Church, offers training in multilingual, multicultural worship gatherings. We love shoppers!


RSS bead teacher Amy Cornett (center) sorts jewelry with Mud Creek volunteers Jean and Anita. Thank goodness for ziploc bags!


Members of volunteer teams from two Baptist churches – Mud Creek in Hendersonville, N.C.,and First Baptist of Springfield, Mo. – enjoyed teatime prepared and served by RSS students (from left at end of table), Devi, Aiti and Tika. The hostesses made Bhutanese tea, breads and sweets. Those aren't onion rings in the bowl -- they are roti, a favorite deep-fried bread treat.


Jeremy Welker (left) and Kyle Leeper, volunteers from First Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo., do some heavy lifting during the store move. Hard, sweaty work on a hot day. Thanks guys!

 


RSS beginning sewing teacher Aline Ricks (right) and volunteer Wanda Love prepare to sew curtains to cover the shelves in the yarn area of the room.


Our new store even includes “mood lighting”! Call us when you want to come and shop! Or visit our webstore at refugeesewingsociety.com.


Great job everyone! No doubt God has great things "in store" for The Refugee Sewing Society!

Birth of a Store

Posted on July 29, 2012 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)


RSS at World Refugee Day

Posted on July 16, 2012 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

The Refugee Sewing Society did a brisk business in its products June 20 at Clarkston Community Center. The occasion was World Refugee Day. Summer 2012 has found the RSS conducting sales in a number of outdoor venues, including the Clarkston Farmers Market.

Farming Refugee Style

Posted on May 15, 2012 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)



The Bhutanese ladies in The Refugee Sewing Society are farmers and proud of it. At least they were farmers in Bhutan, until their Nepali bloodlines and religious beliefs made them persona non grata in their home country.


Most spent many years in a refugee camp in Nepal – where they also cultivated produce – before they were allowed to emigrate to the United States.

 

Wistful expressions appear on the ladies’ faces when they recall their crops and orchards in Bhutan. To honor that heritage – and to give them a helping hand using their green thumbs in Georgia – the RSS recently took the advanced sewing class on a shopping trip.

 

First stop was Dollar Tree, where everything costs a dollar or less. The goal was to find pots for these apartment-dwellers to plant in. Plastic buckets should work nicely – just remember to cut a hole in the bottom so water can drain out.


 

No stipulations were placed on the ten-dollar bill each woman received for the outing, so checkout time saw some unrelated purchases, such as “Jonny Cleaner.”

 

From Dollar Tree it was off to Hall’s Flower Shop and Garden Center, a 64-year-old business on Memorial Drive. Proprietors Betsy and Ken Hall graciously helped the RSS ladies choose plants and flowers, then gave them a discount on their purchases.


 

Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant were the popular seedlings. Bright yellow marigolds were the flower of choice.

 

RSS ladies Jasoda and Aiti said the following week that their plants were doing well. “1-2-3 flowers” on her tomato plant, Jasoda reported. “Plant happy,” Aiti agreed.

 

 

Sweet Friends

Posted on May 5, 2012 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

By Amy Cornett


 

Our bead class learned to make wire swirl earrings before spring break, and I sent them home with enough wire to make 8 to 10 each during the break. All came back really done well -- except a couple of small problems, which were corrected in class.


 

Then there was Kuresho. She had not felt good all week and her work was not her best.  I showed her one good swirl she had made and gave the others back with some new wire. I told her not to worry, because we wouldn't start selling this design for another week.


 

One of our younger women, Khari, had to leave early, so we began wrapping up. I noticed Radhika H and Krishna talking in hushed voices, then they began talking to the others.  Kamara, who speaks good English, told Kuresho and me they each wanted to take a pair of Kuresho's swirl earrings and finish them before we left.

 

So six Hindu ladies took our little Swahili-speaking Muslim's “sick days” mess-ups and turned them into beautiful earrings. I kept telling them how sweet they were, and I told Kuresho that she had good friends -- really good friends.

 

At the end of class, I took a photo of them in the hall, surrounding Kuresho as she held her baggie of finished earrings. Thinking about it made me cry on the way home.

 

So many good things are happening among our ladies.  They are showing love and acceptance to those from other countries and beliefs.  They are also freely showing patience, consistency and most precious of all – joy.  When these women first came to us, they were quiet, careful, and probably fearful.  Time together and the love of our Lord Jesus has made such a difference. 

 

Now we are all dear friends – and sometimes they seem like part of my family – my extra, small, tan children. :-) This becomes apparent if I see my ladies in vulnerable situations because my Momma Bear self emerges.  One of our roles in teaching them is protecting them and making them know they are safe here.  

 

Do you hear that still, small voice inside your heart telling you to give yourself away?  Come and share your talents and love with the precious ladies of the RSS.  You’ll see the blessings flow.


 

 

 

The Great Bhutanese Weaving Project

Posted on April 23, 2012 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (1)

By: Anne


What to do with a yarn class in Georgia during the 7 to 8 warm months of the year? Well…perhaps the ancient Bhutanese craft of backstrap weaving, as Dil demonstrates in the photo above.


In the past, a couple of members of our group had woven some bookmarks for us. Some had a cross on them, which gave us an opportunity to explain what the cross means to Christians. Could we make more of these, and perhaps market them to church bookstores?


Then a large youth group visited us during spring break. One of the boys made a paracord bracelet while he was with us. This set me thinking: could our weaving products include tie-on bracelets? And could they be in school or university colors?


Only God knows where this all will lead, but we have had fun trying to figure out how to make it work. Visit our store to look at what we have done already, and let us know if you like what we do.


Remember, this project is in the development phase, so we need input -- and ORDERS! -- to help us figure out the very best products to offer you. We can custom-make bracelets and bookmarks for special occasions, so please keep us in mind!

 

Meet our bead group.

Posted on February 2, 2012 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)

By: Cathy


Amy Cornett has been a volunteer leader with the Refugee Sewing Society for most of its existence.  In her other life, she's married to Bob, a mother of two, and Mamie to a pair of beautiful granddaughters.  She also produces, writes, directs, shoots, and edits for such clients as Coca-Cola and Home Depot. 


I took these photos before our Christmas party.  The bead group makes beautiful jewelry each week.  Here, they are working on a bracelet order for Georgia WMU.  The WMU in our state is actively involved in preventing and ending human trafficking.  Atlanta is a major hub for this illegal activity.

Khari (left) is fluent in English, though she is Bhutanese and lived most of her life in a refugee camp in Nepal.  She helps Amy with translation.  We're excited that not long after this photo was taken, she gave birth to her first baby!

 

The faces of the women in Amy's class are so beautiful.  Chhali Maya's profile shows her regal bearing. 

Kuresho, from Somalia, has been in Amy's bead group almost from the start.

Here are several of the other women in Amy's group.

Please remember Amy's bead students in your prayers.

The Blessing of Volunteerism

Posted on January 6, 2012 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Posted by: Anne Beach

December 27, 2011

                                     

I never expected to spend more than one day a week in the ministry of the Refugee Sewing Society.  I am very involved with a friend’s ministry in India, and I was quite sure God was not calling me to work in Clarkston!  Furthermore, I had a smocking business, and that consumed most of the rest of my free time.

 

God has a sense of humor!  Not only did He make it abundantly clear that my smocking business was at an end, He also gave me a deep love for these refugee women and this ministry.

 

I suppose we all are aware that we are very blessed to live in the United States.  Most of us feel some degree of guilt about our relative wealth, but we also don’t know what we can do to help others.  Send money to charities?  Build houses for Habitat for Humanity? Aid Katrina victims?  All are great ideas.  And I don’t want to discourage anyone’s participation in these fine causes.  But I do want to share my thoughts about the blessings I’ve found by volunteering to help a unique community near my house.

 

Clarkston, GA, is a 30-minute drive from my front door.  And it feels like about a million miles from our culture. Families have been resettled here by the United Nations so that they could escape ethnic cleansing and genocide.  The horrors of those wars are unimaginable to me.

 

I thought I was going to the RSS to help some new immigrants.  But it turns out that they have given me an unimaginable gift of love and acceptance into their culture.  It has allowed me to “travel” to cultures I would never otherwise experience, and to get to know individuals in a way I never could on a trip.

 

And it has blessed me beyond my wildest expectations!  I will never forget a moment when I asked one of my new students to sign her name on her W-2 form.  Not only did it seem like one of the first times she had ever signed her name, I am quite sure this was the first time she signed her name in order to get employment.  It was as if she was taking her first steps toward independence and self-sufficiency.  Watching her take that step was quite moving.

 

Volunteering also has challenged my understanding about what is “normal.”  There is a richness that comes from having your eyes opened to the many different ways people live and order their lives.  

 

I’d like to challenge you to think about ways you can serve others by volunteering!  With us? I hope so! There are so many ways to help, and not all of them require coming to Clarkston during our regular hours.  We need photographers, internet gurus, computer programmers, people to sit and talk with women.  And yes, we need hands-on workers  within our groups.


                            

 

 


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