Well we are into 2021 with new eyes after what was a strange and eventful 2020! What I have to say is that I feel very blessed to live in Australia and through the times of COVID we have done well!
This year will be busy with taking on the Philippines and we are all so excited to make a difference there – next week we pack for the Philippines and we are waiting for our first shipment to arrive there shortly.
Our market days were such a success last year that we are running four market days this year. These days help us get the word out about what we do and help us raise funds for Days for Girls. I didn’t realise how successful they would be – but everyone is happy with the results and we are loving being able to spread the word too.
I have updated the calendar for the dates this year and it can be found here
What a year this has been and you would think that from my lack of posts – we have not been busy – actually the total reverse is true! We have been so busy with our sewing and packing that the website has been sadly not updated as it should be! Never mind – maybe that is a new years resolution for 2021 that I might be able to keep.
As I reflect on 2020 I reflect on the resilience of our volunteers – not only Canberra based but Australia and the World. Our team has actually sent more clothing and DFG kits to the world this year than any other year – and world wide – DFG International seem to be almost at the 2 million kit mark – that is 2million girls and women who have dignity and can go to school or work and change their community.
We began sewing and packing again in July, when it was safe to do so, and we have sent two huge shipments in both July and October to Pakistan which will keep things going there for the next 6 months so we can concentrate on the very real need in the Philippines.
At a Bosom Buddies High Tea I was delighted to meet Micaela who along with her family is providing consistent and very needed support to the slum city on the garbage dump in the Philippines. It was one of those light bulb moments where you meet the right person at just the right time – and as I spoke to her and the work that is happening there – I knew we had to be involved.
Firstly she in contact with Evelyn who she sends supplied too every month – a box (huge and unlimited weight) costs just $100 to transport over there by sea. Micaela and her family and friends have been donating items through this system – and when I heard about it we just had to help. So for our November packing day we packed 5 boxes – 216 DFG kits, all the clothing we had, school supplies, bras and toiletries. We filled them to the brim and as I write this – delivery is fairly close now….. and we are excited.
Evelyn has completed her Ambassador of Women’s Health training with Days for Girls so she will be able to distribute training and the kits to girls and women in her area – we are committed to supporting her for six months initially and will keep identifying how we can best help her. I cannot imagine living on a dump where people eek out a living from foraging, kids need gumboots otherwise their feet get infected, shelter is inadequate and management of a monthly period , toileting and even eating is primitive at best. Add to that a typoon in November where many people lost their dwellings and you can see what they face, everyday.
I am beyond grateful that we have wonderful teams around Australia who are able to assist in the provision of DFG kits – and have almost 1000 pledged for the Philippines. For the first time ever, I have been able to buy 1000 pair of underwear through our successful fundraising!! These undies will go into the kits (they are small girls size 8 to 10) and we will replace the undies of larger sizes so the girls can use the kits in total with the appropriate size undies.
In addition to the ‘normal’ we were very successful in holding two markets at Pearce, where we ran a craft market and we were able to not only donated the stall holders fees, but we sold our amazing tote bags and made enough funds to support the freight of the Philippines and Pakistan this year. This was such a relief, as the tote bags are very popular – but it is more than that – we use the stall to raise awareness and the ladies do a magnificent job!! I cannot begin to tell you how this has a flow on effect – donations of fabric, being asked to speak at events, new volunteers….I thank the 12 wonderful ladies who helped at the market (6 per day) – it was an astounding success and we are booked in for 4 markets next year. We even have our own EFTPOS machine now to take payments.
Lubna has had a number of health issues and of course COVID has caused a lot of problems in getting clothing, DFG kits and bras out to the women who need them in 2020. However, Lubna does travel as she is able and she has a huge stockpile for when things open up again.
We also donated a number of DFG kits to the WYAM ship to Papua New Guinea this year – Kerrie Huxham collects kits when she can, and we willingly assisted her with kits this year – as they say ‘Periods don’t pause for pandemics.’
While 2020 has been a huge challenge, I know that in the rest of the world where we serve, services are at breaking point. No medical assistance, financial security and no income, is something that they are dealing with everyday. I always keep in my mind that we are so fortunate to live where we do, and most of us have housing, something to eat and perhaps one of the best healthcare systems in the world. This drives me to assist others, and I know that you feel the call too! So from the bottom of my heart – thank you! For every stitch, donation, hour, and chat – we could not have done what we do, without you!
For 2021 we will be meeting on the 4th Sunday of the month – this will make it easier for everyone to remember and are already booked in at Pearce ACT – everyone is welcome. Shortly I will update the calendar and pop the link up here.
Thank you for your support, the cuppas and the humour! We have had an amazing year and I look forward to a fantastic 2021.
Good afternoon all – it is the end of June and I cannot believe this crazy year. As I write this 10 million people have tested positive around the world to COVID-19 and 500,000 people have died. This is a huge number, but even more so for our friends in developing countries and communities, where they cannot get the medical care or social service payments we are able to access in Australia. At this time please think of them, it is hard enough for us, but if you are poor with reduced health outcomes it is catastrophic.
I made the decision not to try to hold a sewing/packing day in June to protect everyone as things were only starting to open up again, and we must tread slowly through this time. But it hasn’t stopped the sewing and assembling – not by any means. People are picking up dress and shorts packs, days for girls sewing and looking at ways to keep things moving through this time.
That being said, this is also a time when people have told me they just haven’t been able to sew, it has been a very un-motivating time. So please take care of yourself – and just do what you need to do – we must look after our health and well-being, including our mental health. Sometimes we just need to be kind to ourselves – as a wise man said ‘It too will pass.’
We are at present planning the next sewing/packing day on the 26th July – 10am to 2pm all being well. Of course I will ensure that we are not placed at risk as your health is the most important to me at this time and we will rise to continue no matter what.
Drop off and pick up is busily humming away in both Pearce and Gordon – please feel free to take advantage of this whenever it suits you. There are all packs available at both locations.
You will probably notice that I have not done an end of year EOFY call out for donations. This was entirely intentional as I believe there is so much need in the world at the moment that it just felt inappropriate. We have enough finances currently to send 80 kilos in October to Pakistan and then we will see how everything goes. The sales of our market totes is a big contributor to our financial viability – but alas there have been no markets to sell these into lately – but I do have a number booked for the end of the year so hopefully we will sell lots! I am also going to ask a few businesses to stock them when I have a minute….
A couple of weeks ago I was given a donation from Mark and his sister from the sewing supplies that their Mum had left when she passed away. In the middle of their grief, these amazing people reached out and filled my car – which is extremely hard to do – to the roof with fabric. We donated it around charities in Canberra and the donation will help so many people it is incredible …. I am so grateful – that their gift will change so many lives in Canberra and beyond – their mother would be so proud.
This is what I messaged to Mark
Hi Mark Thank you for your delivery today I have sorted out the fabric that was your Mum’s and this is how it is being used. All polyester print fabric will be made into clothing by Pakistani women to send to women and girls in need in Pakistan. Zips-will be used for fiddle muffs for people with dementia Lining and stabilising fabrics for patchwork quilts for the elderly. Cotton fabric will be used for days for Girls and clothing for kids sent all over the world. Elastic … will be used for girls dresses and boys shorts. Interlock, ribbing and collars will be made into shorts, dresses, underwear and t shirts for children in the Congo. Fleecy fabric for the people at end of life in Canberra hospitals and hospices. Please let your sister know too your Mum’s gift has changed so many lives and will for the future We so appreciate the donation With regards Carol
Today I packed 8 boxes for the Solomon Islands – there is a domestic crisis service there and the women and children often leave their homes with nothing. So we are donating 3 boxes of bras, women’s underwear and camisoles plus 100 sets of clothing for kids. While we will not see their smiling faces in photos – it does my heart good to know that these women and children feel the love from Australia and hope that they will start again, stronger than before.
I also just want to say in closing how much I appreciate everything you do, no matter what we are still reaching women and kids who desperately need the items we make and together we make a difference. I have always thought our work was special – reaching so many people, because it isn’t only about the clothes or the kits, it is all about the kind hearts that sew, put things together, make components and help in a myriad of ways. I appreciate you all.
This year is a strange one indeed and there is one thing for sure – safety of both our volunteers and countries we assist is our top priority. So with this in mind we are currently not having sewing and packing days but will resume in July – fingers and toes crossed.
What we are doing for the short term until we resume the monthly sewing and packing days is that we are doing pick ups and drop offs at SHOUT in Pearce ACT – this is working really well. We have nominated Mondays because it is easiest to have one day allocated but we have a large stock at SHOUT so we are definitely flexible on that.
One thing for sure is that ‘Periods don’t stop for pandemics’ The need is great and our work is essential – but while things are slow here – I expect we will have a lot to do as transport becomes available to countries.
Lubna has received a shipment to Pakistan in May and we have also sent another shipment in April – so there are a lot of clothes, days for girls kits, bras, hygiene products and school pencils etc to get out the the community when things calm down.
With this in mind we will not be sending another shipment in July to Pakistan – rather we have two shipments that we will get out as soon as we can:
Solomon Islands desperately needs clothing for their domestic violence crisis service so we will be sending 25 kilos of clothes via the Australian Federal Police
We will supply Amani Children’s Home in Tanzania with a set of clothes for each child (50 to 60 kids)
The Philippines shipment is on hold at present until Tess has finished building her home so we will supply once they are needed.
As you may be aware we have been asked to make our kits plastic free so we needed to learn and make a travel bag and pack the components differently to what we are used too. This new way has made things easier in that the kits are more compact and we can fit more into the box – plus they are easier to identify the size from the outside.
Lastly – I want to thank everyone for still assisting where they can through this strange and challenging time – the need is great and we will be using resources to assist kids and women all over the world once things settle – I am so grateful for your help – together we do great things!!
I have taken some time to get to this post as simply we have had so much thrown at us – in Canberra, Australia and the world recently it is hard to know where we could begin.
Here we are after what can only be viewed as the most crazy time we have ever lived through. It has been hard, more than hard, it has been sad too for most of us here in Canberra but devastating for Australia and the year continues to be challenging with Coronavirus Covid 19 affecting the worlds population.
Through the worst drought we barely kept things going when fires ravaged the lands we hold dear – our beautiful South Coast was devastated with people losing their lives and their homes and it was felt throughout NSW and Victoria too and up into Queensland.
Our land was tinder dry with 6 months of no rain – and the fires took hold and could not be stopped for over 5 weeks. The light at this time was the amazing ESA Commissioner Georgeina Wheelan who was our hero as she kept us calm and informed throughout the fires – it got so close to us – 12 km away and my home was in danger as we face paddock – there is nothing between.
Throughout this time we changed our sewing to meet the needs of thousands of native animals affected by fires, losing their parents, mobs and habitat – injured macropods (roos and wallabies), koalas, wombats, possums, gliders and bats – the Sew for A Girl team sewed bat wraps and mummy rolls for the bats, pouches for the joeys and hanging bags for the roos, wallabies and wombats. We sent 4 car loads of stock to the south cost, 6 boxes and 6 post packs around the eastern coast and inland of Australia. Many of us just wanted to do something!
We also supplied a number of organisations with clothing for their children who had lost their clothes in the fires, and for families affected by the terrible drought in both NSW and Queensland.
Then as we turned the corner in late January from the fire devastation we had a major hailstorm in Canberra, which wrote off 25000 cars with extensive hail damage – this caused people great difficulty with transport needs for their family and many have had to borrow to update a car that they were not expecting – causing financial distress.
And now Covid 19! We await to see how this changes out world – for this post at least we are working and running our businesses from home, self isolating as much as possible and the Sew for a Girl Team are sewing at home – we are unable to meet until the crisis has passed. Thank goodness for email and facebook which helps us stay connected with each other.
But on the bright side, and we must remember there is always a bright side – we have sent 95 kilos of Days for Girls Kits, school equipment and balls, toothbrushes and past and bras to Pakistan in January and at my door is another shipment due to be picked up this weekend. While it may take longer for the deliver to get to Lubna in Pakistan – it is happening and we will be in a different place in three months time.
Sew for a Girl Canberra will continue to sew and bring hope to those who are in most need within Australia and the wider community. Our sewers are sewing to ensure we are ready to assist when needed. In fact – I can probably say it is helping to keep us sane at the moment as the world seems in a strange and challenging period.
Just in closing I want to say how much I appreciate you all – you all are so important to this work, and you matter.
Well its almost Christmas and we have extreme heat, fires 50 km away and Canberra is working under a cloud of smoke. Our Rural Fire Service is fighting the fires and like the heroes they are, they are exhausted. This led me to take the step to offer support through SHOUT (my paid job) and become a drop off point for donations to assist them in their work. We have been proud to support Convoy Missions Australia and assist them.
At times like these I also wonder about the wildlife and know there are so many critters injured who need help so I have roped in hubby and we have been sewing pouches for injured wildlife. We sent off 50 the other day and should have another 50 this week. So many volunteers doing great things.
I have decided to run a wildlife pouch sewing morning at SHOUT in Canberra for anyone who is interested – if you can’t sew – we have cutting and ironing and packing to do! Kids over 8 are welcome to get involved – it is simple stuff!! Please think of us and bring those old sheets, pillowcases and flannelette (fabric or sheets) … there will be patterns to take home too.
Wildlife Pouch Sewing Day
SHOUT Meeting Room – Pearce Community Centre, Pearce
Saturday January 4th
Time 10.30 to 1.30
Bring machine or overlocker and thread
fabric or sheets if you have them
Tanzania has finally received clothing and cards – it has been a mammoth effort and when we were finally due to get them released – customs held on to them for 3 more weeks, despite payment – very frustrating. But the photos …. they make your heart melt!!
I have been looking for ways to assist the Australian Community for some time – and many of you know how frustrating this has been. I would love a great contact for our indigenous people but it has been really quite difficult to get any traction at all! But I finally have three amazing organisations that we are now donating too!
Drought Angels – accept our clothing as they need it – and love it!
Kids in Care in Canberra – were thrilled to get clothing for the 104 kids in care this Christmas – to make it brighter (and well dressed)
Roundabout Canberra – which accepts pre-loved clothing in great condition – and we give them our sewn clothing as they need it. Roundabout also donated sheets and pillow cases to our wildlife pouches production!!
Our stats this year are amazing and this is a testament to the needs of the community and the world – we are grateful to be part of this amazing journey to assist where we can.
Short and t shirt sets 402
Days for Girls kits 1014
Countless other items : toothbrushes, pencils, balls, bras, soaps and tooth paste
So as we come to the Christmas Season – I would like to wish you and your families a very happy Christmas and a safe New Year. Thank you for all you do and as importantly for who you are – without you there wouldn’t be us! And we together make a difference to the world.
Hi everyone – I am finally looking at winding down for the Christmas break after a huge year ! 2019 really saw us trying to fit everything in and ensuring all went to plan…
We have had an amazing year and our stats are now reflecting what an enormous year this has been – we are all a bit tired and need a break. This year we have reached over 2000 kids from all over the globe and including some great contact in Australia: We sent:
402 short sets (boys)
952 Days for Girls Kits
Uncounted knitted clothes, toothbrushes, toiletries and bras
The countries we sent to are:
Vanuatu – via Ednah and TB program
Solomon Islands – via AFP
PNG – via boat ‘My Island Home’
Pakistan – via Tree of Life Ministries
Lebanon – via Syrian Refugee Project
Zimbabwe – via Victoria
Tanzania – via Amani Childrens Home
Fiji – via Uplift Australia
Canberra – via Kids in Care
Canberra – via Roundabout
Queensland – via Drought Angels
As Australia is battling with drought and as I write this – bush fires in much of Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales we are finding new ways to support our country through our work.
We have had a huge amount of support from other organisations – we cannot thank you enough because every support assists us!! Supports include:
Canberra City DFG Team
Across the Board Cake Decorating
Addicted to Fabric
John Paul 11 College
Weston Uniting Church
and many supporters who have helped in so many ways – financially, gifts, products, supplies and freight
Without our volunteers – honestly we would not exist – our reach is substantial and growing every week – and everyone of you is appreciated. Our volunteers do amazing work including:
Cutting and sewing DFG kits and clothing
Assembly of packs
spreading the words
Arranging with groups for me to make presentations
Donations of undies, face washers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap
Donations of funds and fabric
Freight and pickup
In particular there are the unseen heros of Sew for a Girl Canberra – the volunteers who work behind the scenes – and the families and friends who support us to do what we do! Many of us have a room full of fabric or in my case a garage and dining room! It takes love and patience to deal with this day in and day out without (much) complaint. We thank you.
As you may know – we are now going into our 4th year! I am particularly proud of what we have achieved – but even more so what we will achieve in 2020. Our goals are:
Support kids in care in the ACT and those in crisis through Roundabout – so we are now taking great condition clothes – clean and hardly worn – to donate to this amazing organisation. Please leave donations at SHOUT or at my front door.
To ensure that we support Australians in crisis where we can through established and reputable groups and organisations – including those working with our indigenous communities.
To finally change our name to Sew for Change and register us as a charity – this will allow us to give receipts in our name and assist us in getting rates etc under charitable status. We will be forming a board as part of this move.
To continue to support Pakistan as a priority – through Lubna Ghani – Tree of Life Ministries – the reach and effect of our work with her is far reaching and we are blessed to have this connection
To provide support to our Pacific Island Sisters and ensure we supply the region with DFG Kits and clothes
To develop the connection with the Philippines through Tess and supply DFG kits and clothes.
To work with groups and organisations to broaden the scope of the organisation whilst staying true to its mission and goals.
So from me to you all – thank you for the many ways you assist us – support our work and help us reach so many children and women around the globe. We are honoured to work with girls and women to make a difference in their lives and their future. On behalf of Sew for a Girl Canberra – I am deeply grateful to you all and your commitment and support enables me to continue to coordinate this amazing organisation to deliver clothes and DFG kits around the world.
This is a very short post as I will be back with lots more information soon
As I write this I am just about to leave for Vanuatu on Monday where I will be meeting Ednah for the first time and giving her DFG kits, spectacles, bras, baby clothes and lots more. we are taking in 46 kilos to the people in the villages. Lots of photos to come.
We have had lots of contacts recently and we are welcoming Mozambique, Ethiopia and the Philippines to the Sew for A Girl Canberra fold! It is funny how these things work out, with an old friend Jules coming back into my life – she visits Ethiopia once a year and we hope to get DFG kits and clothes over there.
Lubna is now in the midst of distributing DFG kits again after leave to have her lovely baby Joshua. So she is working through the vast amount of kits and other supplies.
Other news is that the container is on its way to Zimbabwe so Victoria can start to distribute DFG kits and kids clothes to the people in her home town.
The two boxes are on their way to the kids at Amani Kids in Tanzania – we are hoping customs will be a bit more generous this time around.
127 kits are now delivered to the outpost in Victoria for delivery to the women and girls who are Syrian refugees. we are delighted to support such a worthwhile project.
45 DFG kits have left Townsville with YWAM ships to PNG.
Thank you for your support – I am looking forward to a much needed break and will be back with photos and lots more news soon
July has been an incredibly busy month and as I write this I reflect on how we have grown throughout the past three years. Three years ago we met for a few months within people’s homes – and I would bring everything in and then most houses just wouldn’t fit the number of sewing machines or women. We then moved for a few months into the Grant Cameron Community Centre until, fortuitously, I stopped my retirement and came to work at SHOUT!
Luckily at SHOUT we have a meeting room (now upgraded to further meet our needs – cough) – and better yet – storage! So no longer do I pack my car to the headrests and higher (sorry for that Mr Policeman) … we ‘simply’ take several loads of boxes out of storage into the meeting room where we have enough room for 12 sewing machines and a row of tables can be made into a packing machine worked with willing hands and lovely chatter. How far we have come!
I am not really religious – but I do believe that it has all come together in rather a miraculous way!
And today I am going to talk about my gorgeous volunteers: I am delighted to say they come from all walks of life, and everyone is totally accepted. We are inclusive, friendly and enjoy our days spent sewing up a storm, be it clothes or kits, or packing the DFG kits. There is always busy activity but no stress – it is a place of acceptance and kindness. And I am totally in awe of the amazing women we attract to the cause.
I am also so thankful for Leonie for managing beautifully the packing of the DFG Kits area – it just is so good that I can leave it in her capable hands and she is so lovely with everyone. Leonie you are a gem!!
Gill is always working in the background – dyeing undies, washers and flannelette which is too light, preparing the bags for sewing and tracing the shields and pockets. I love she says goodie!! when I deliver yet another bag/s of fabric or dyeing!
And Sue and Ron who cut all the dresses and shorts and have done so now for over two years – this has been an incredible help to me – as in the beginning I was trying to keep up with it all!! Her work is wonderful…. we have filled one of her rooms with fabric – that is a true friend.
And Ron who did two years of hotspot overlocking, sewing and cutting …. who did it so consistently – we are missing him as he is having a well deserved break …. the overlocker is waiting for you Ron when you decide to return – never say never!!
Also thank you to Liz who has taken over the duties of snap machine guru – for the DFG shields and Flick who takes care of our PUL cutting – both of which I was trying to do (badly).
I would also like to thank all the amazing ladies who turn up every month for the sewing and packing days – who are so amazing and strong in their resolve for us to do something for those in need. They keep us supplied in undies, washers and soaps and they are all valued beyond measure! I am grateful to you all – thank you.
And to our home sewers – far and wide – we have ladies all over Australia who sew for us – and send through the clothes and DFG kits. I have not met most of you – but I am so grateful for your time and energy – you are amazing.
Thank you also for donations across Australia – for funds and for items …. without your support we could not do what we do. Thank you to CWA for supporting us so strongly – it makes such a difference!
I also want to thank our wonderful people on the ground – the negotiations, time and the consistency needed to get the clothes and DFG kits to those who need them is astonishing – and yet this is where all the volunteers above help me so much – I spend most of my time working through the issues and negotiating with 16 (at last count) countries – all are different and all take time – and all are so worthwhile.
Thank you to:
Ednah – Vanuatu
Gideon – Tanzania
Lubna – Pakistan
Lucette – Vietnam
Melanie – Papua New Guinea
Simon and Jann – Kenya
Steve and Margie – Kiisi Kenya
Victoria – Zimbabwe
Gwen – Philippines
Sue – Solomon Islands
Fountain of Peace – Uganda
Oz Blaydon – Nepal
Project Didi – Nepal
Sadly we have had to day goodbye to a few volunteers lately and we will miss them so much. Goodbye to Sue Dawes and Ray MacNeill who both passed away suddenly recently – Sue came to several sewing days and enjoyed packing kits. Ray was an amazing friend and photographer – who we will miss, more than he will ever know.
This month we:
Finally packed and are ready to send the two boxes of clothes to Tanzania – 33 dresses and 26 short sets
Have packed and are ready for pick up for the refugee project – 127 kits
Have packed kits for Vanuatu and the YWAM ship leaving from Townsville
Have sent 18 kits, and various other items to Pakistan in two boxes
Thank you for your amazing support – we are doing really well – and I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of our amazing team.