Sewing school tries pattern in Haiti

Andra Thakur displays some of the sewing machines donated by Nanaimo residents in 2011.

Andra Thakur displays some of the sewing machines donated by Nanaimo residents in 2011.

Since 2009, Andra Thakur has sought sewing machines for the Nanaimo Sewing School in Guyana.

The response from the Nanaimo-Parksville community has been tremendous with hundreds of the machines collected and shipped to South America.

The school has already conducted three classes in Guyana – the first in 2009-2010, the second in 2010-2011 and third from August to December 2011.

More than 70 young men and women have received life and work skills.

“The acquisition of a skill such as tailoring can create life opportunities, particularly where many do not have the means to meet their basic needs of home, food and clothing,” said Thakur, a retired professor of anthropology at Vancouver Island University. “In a country where school uniforms are mandatory, tailoring and sewing machine skills are a viable means of employment.”

The more than 2,000 uniforms created by students learning the trade in the classrooms were donated to the poor in the communities who could not afford them.

A sewing school is planned for Haiti for September to November 2013, sponsored by the Caribbean/American Domestic Violence Awareness, Life-Line Mission Group, the North Nanaimo Rotary Club  and the Rotary Club of South Cowichan.

While Thakur has acquired many sewing machines thanks to the generous donations from people on Vancouver Island, he needs 10 more to meet the needs for the upcoming school in Haiti.

The sewing school projects have multiple benefits and are sustained at the local level in the communities by non-governmental organizations, said Thakur.

“Students acquire the skills to measure, cut and sew school uniforms, and maintain their sewing machines, and on graduation they receive a sewing machine, providing the opportunity to utilize the new skills in their future,” he said.

Anyone wishing to donate a sewing machine to the school is asked to contact Thakur at 250-933-5563 or Joyce Morrison at 250-248-5914.

In order to service the machines and get them ready for shipping – as well as the time required for actual shipping – machines in good working order are needed as soon as possible.