In June, I wrote a post called “A Different Story.” That post recounted the journey of Noor, the woman who trains our new seamstresses. Today, I would like to return to Noor’s story because I think it exemplifies Peace of Thread’s mission.
Our founder, Denise, says that Peace of Thread’s mission is to help refugee women “thrive in every area as an American citizen, as a human being, as women.” Noor’s story demonstrates two areas that Peace of Thread can help women thrive in: confidence and friendship.
For example, one of the services Peace of Thread provides to refugees is helping them learn English as a second language. While we don’t formally teach classes, we do put refugees in contact with English-speaking who teach them how to speak English through conversations. Whether at home or around the sewing machine, chatting with their friends and mentors allows our seamstresses hear how English sounds and have their speaking mistakes corrected.
When Noor started working for Peace of Thread, she was ashamed whenever Denise or another English-speaking woman would correct her mistakes. Now, she asks to be corrected. She sees the corrections as an opportunity to learn and not as a rebuke.
And while Noor’s English isn’t perfect, it is good enough for her to say what she wants to say. When the reporter tried to prompt Noor to answer her questions, Noor said, “I want to say that, but I want to say it in different words.” Not only did Noor have the confidence to have a conversation with the reporter, but she felt self-assured enough to direct the conversation where she wanted it to go.
This confidence doesn’t come out of nowhere. It’s created and bolstered by friendships. It’s become obvious to me from watching Noor that she’s built a deep friendship not only with Denise but also with her fellow seamstresses. They greet each other with kisses whenever they see one another, and they always encourage one another to do better on their sewing. They celebrate each other’s achievements (such as when Farha received her graduation certificate). And they pray together even though they are sometimes of different religions.
I felt so proud of Noor and our other seamstresses as they made bags and talked in English to the reporter who interviewed them about their lives. I also felt proud of them as I watched them work together to produce Peace of Thread’s “one-of-a-kind” bags. It’s as if Noor was speaking for all of our women when she said, “Now I am strong. Before I was shy. Now I am good.”