When we think of our work in Ghana, it centers around how we can help resource women to rise within their communities through small business enterprises that bring income sustainability to their families. When a woman is able to provide for her family, the entire community benefits.
Our new program in Tulsa, RiSE centers on women in our community here in the U.S. who have come from around the world to make a life here. The challenges are numerous. There are language barriers, immigration paperwork, cultural norms that are confusing and new ways to parent that are very different than what has been taught in home countries. Helping refugees and immigrants navigate the challenges can be overwhelming, so we've chosen to do one thing to help women assimilate and feel welcome in our community.
Teach them to sew.
Every Monday, we gather in the morning and afternoon with two groups of women who are both newly arrived in the U.S. and some who have been here for many years. There are 14 sewing machines on tables across a large room in a generous church in the south part of the city. We are just beginning, but already we see joy in the faces of the women - both students and volunteers! This program gives refugee women a way to contribute to their families as they learn how to mend and sew clothes - and for some of the women, earn income by stitching products they can sell. Our eight sewing instructors move around the room helping the women learn the machine, the stitching, troubleshooting, and giving lots of encouraging feedback. In the midst of the humming of machines, we are building relationships with one another through the act of creating.
In a world that often seems increasingly divided and unwelcoming to those who need refuge, friendship and kindness, we believe that what goes on in that second floor room in South Tulsa might be a small way to bring us back together and remind us that we are all neighbors.
We're inviting our Tulsa friends to join us in this welcome addition to the Rising Village programs. We always need volunteers who sew (no need to be a pro) to give assistance to the women as they are learning. You won't need to prepare lesson plans or stand in front of the group and "teach." And if you can't make an every week commitment, that's okay too. Come when you can! If you are interested in helping the women sew, email email@example.com.
This summer, we also need volunteers to read, play learning games, and get to know a few special elementary-aged children. Some of the women bring their older children and some extra hands are helpful. We're specifically needing volunteers on Mondays from 10 a.m. -12 p.m. Rising Village and South Tulsa Baptist provide the materials, you bring the smiles and open hearts for the children. If you are interested in volunteering with the elementary-aged children, email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have little time to volunteer but can provide resources, we need donations for sewing machines. We are offering sewing machine credits for class participation that will give the women an opportunity to purchase a new sewing machine for as little as $25. In order to do that, however, we need to purchase a small bulk of five $200 sewing machines. You'll be reading more about this in the coming weeks, but we're taking donations right now! Click here for the link. We also always have sewing and class supplies on our Amazon Wishlist .
We've made a commitment to these women, as well as the women and students in Ghana because we believe that all people have the potential to create a more beautiful world if we can just recognize their dignity and provide a helping hand. We'd love for you to be a part of what we're doing in Tulsa, and in Ghana!