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03 July 2019
By Lotte Reiter
Sewing programs connecting Wimmera craft and migrant communities are broadening opportunities and social access for the region’s newest residents.
Wimmera Development Association has officially launched its new Harmony sewing group at Horsham’s The Makers’ Gallery and Studio.
After receiving ‘overwhelming’ interest from more than 40 women, the Harmony program rotates three groups of sewers through sessions where they learn skills and connect with others.
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Informal ‘sew and chat’ Chata sessions have also started at Horsham Library every Wednesday, where members can ‘bring their sewing projects, use the machines and have a chat at the same time’.
Settlement worker Sara Barron said the sessions provided women a social space to connect over a shared interest, particularly with gallery members.
She said Wimmera Development Association covered a Makers’ gallery membership for those involved in the sewing group, allowing them to access other groups such as patchworking or quilting.
“Instead of everything existing in a bubble that can be quite separate for these women, such as English classes, we are trying to introduce them to the craft activities that are about,” she said.
“It’s definitely about social cohesion and connection, but also for these ladies to meet some people that they otherwise might not.
“A lot of the ladies of The Makers’ Gallery and Studio are veterans of Horsham – they know the town well – but this is a new world to the migrant women.”
Sewing machines for the program were donated by Paw Po Products Training Centre and Retail Shop in Nhill, and Ms Barron said gallery staff and coordinators were assisting the group on a voluntary basis.
She said it was wonderful to see the gallery embrace the idea and she hoped to see sessions become embedded into the gallery.
Volunteer and group coordinator Rebecca Grieger said she ‘jumped at’ the opportunity to help because of her own experience as a migrant.
“When I was younger, I came here from Holland, so I know the difficulty learning the language and all that is involved when becoming part of a new community,” she said.
“It has taken the goodwill, energy and talents of many people to get this off the ground, but we feel we have the right mix of people and skill to make Harmony sewing group a successful and sustainable venture.”
The group’s first official session involved making needle keepers, which introduced machine sewing, cutting, and button sewing.
Nigerian migrant Mofe Kolapo, who arrived in Horsham in November last year, said she found a sense of achievement in the sewing group.
“I’ve been wondering how to use this machine, because this is a different model to what I’m used to back in Nigeria,” she said.
“So, I’ve learnt something new, it is an achievement today.”
Mrs Kolapo said she was studying community services, and though she did not dream of the job many years ago, she was glad she could be a support for others.
“One thing that I know is, any trauma, any mental health, any issue that someone might have, when you don’t have people around you who care about you, the healing process is very slow,” she said.
“But when you have the people who care about you, and really have your interest at heart, your recovery process can be very fast.
“So, I really want to be part of that. When you help people, it makes you happy. It’s a plus that we are able to impact positively on the lives of others.”
While Harmony sewing classes are currently full, names are being taken for a waiting list.
People can attend Chata sewing sessions at Horsham Library every Wednesday from 11.30am to 2pm. Children are welcome and no membership is required.
For more information people can contact Sara Barron on firstname.lastname@example.org or 5381 6504.
The entire July 3, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!