About a month ago, I had the privilege of going to our “sewing school” on Ponce De Leon Avenue. To my pleasure, I got to meet Noor* from Iraq, Nala* and Farha* from Afghanistan ,and Elizabeth* from Myanmar.
The light blueish-gray house in Clarkston is Peace of Thread headquarters. It’s packed full of fabrics, sewing machines, and every kind of purse imaginable. Every Wednesday and Friday, our newer seamstresses come here to practice making bags. When they can make every type of bag with no help and no mistakes, they’re considered to have “graduated” from the “school.” After graduation, they can start making bags from home. Making bags from home enables them to generate more income.
Noor is in charge of training the new women. Her own progress from training to mentoring illustrates a key goal of Peace of Thread: to teach women new skills so that they can eventually pass on those skills to others. There’s a feeling of comradery in this place as Noor goes around supervising and correcting her mentees in an almost motherly way. She and Elizabeth laugh together when Elizabeth makes a mistake with a bag.
Making a bag is hard work. A seamstress has to hold the fabric in place and lean in very close as she stitches. Even though the stitching is done by machine, it’s still a very painstaking process. I admired the determination that each seamstress showed even when they had to do things over again.
I saw how all of this struggle pays off when Farha received her graduation certificate. She looked so proud as she held her certificate and got her photo taken with Denise and Noor. Everyone had big smiles on their faces, and I could tell that Noor and Denise were just as happy and excited as Farha was. Farha’s husband also seemed pleased when Denise explained that Farha would now be able to make more money.
At Peace of Thread, our seamstresses are not just sewing bags. They’re sewing their way to a new life. It is a joy to watch their confidence grow with each colorful creation they put together.
*Names changed to protect privacy