A few years ago, The Esther School was gifted a few treadle sewing machines. The machines were used for a number of projects but were not being used to their full potential. Until last year when The Esther School Sewing Program began.

“It began as a basic idea last year, but has really developed this school year,” said Heather Miedema, Music Teacher and Head of the Sewing Program. “By teaching these women how to sew, they can develop a tradable skill and have an opportunity to earn an income for their family.”

Once a week, Heather meets with three women who have shown interest in the sewing program. The women started with learning some basic skills of sewing, such as hand stitching, button sewing, and cutting patterns. The women even lent their learned hand stitching skills to fix a few straps on students’ backpacks! Now, with basic skills learned, the women have moved on to learning the treadle machines.

“With sewing machines, if you know how to drive it helps learning the pedal easier. These women don’t have experience with driving so we had to learn a different way,” commented Heather, “but they are catching on quickly!”

The mamas started practicing by sewing straight and curved lines on paper. Starting next week, they will begin sewing fabric and will move on to bigger projects.

“It’s great to see how these women have grown since the first week of sewing,” reflected Heather. “At first, they were excited but reserved. Now every time I see them around school, they remind me when we are meeting next and are eager for it to arrive. One woman told me that next year, she would be the teacher!”

Through the sewing program, these women are acquiring skills and confidence. They are empowered and given an opportunity to provide for their families. They can take the skills they learned and make an impact in their community by starting their own sewing business and/or teaching others what they have learned. Because when you empower one, you empower many.