What Happens at a Sew-a-thon?
Marissa Waldrop and Cindy Miller run our Programs and Operations, and are also professional seamstresses. In 2018, we began to have sew-a-thons, to provide an opportunity for volunteers to come in and help us with donations that we take to Kenya. Our goal was to provide an opportunity to serve, as well as an opportunity for us to help our community understand why we work with the communities in Kenya.
The sew-a-thons started with underwear, and then we added t-shirt bags and HopeSaCs. Now, we make garden towers to send around the world through The USANA Foundation, and t-shirt dresses and drawstring bags for rescue kits for girls who have run from Female Genital Mutilation and early marriage.
The Sewing Projects
In Kenya, and many developing countries, underwear is rape prevention. Many women do not have access to it, because they live in rural communities, or because they simply can’t afford it. We started using cotton t-shirts donated by people in the community, and converting them to underwear that just requires a 3 piece pattern created by Marissa Waldrop. The pattern can be found at Marissa’s Thread.
The underwear has been distributed to women in the slums of Nairobi, girls in rural communities, and girls in rescue centers. We are also working on a pattern for boys to include in hygiene kits.
What we need:
HopeSaC stands for Hope, Service and Charity. The HopeSaC Project was created by Cindy Miller in an effort to help reduce the amount of time that women in developing countries spend over a smoky fire. Women experience a lot of respiratory challenges because of the fire. With a HopeSaC, or fabric thermal cooker, the women are able to bring a pot of food to boil, and then put the pot in the thermal cooker, where it will continue to cook without them needing to be there. This also allows women to cook their food overnight, so that their children have a meal in the morning.
This is also an opportunity for people who crochet to make hot pads for the women to use. Often, they are forced to use leaves or their clothing to keep from burning their fingers.
The pattern can be found at Thermal Cooking. At sew-a-thons, we cut out the patterns, and either sew them to go to countries where there aren’t established sewing centers, or we take the patterns to our sewing teams in Kenya to finish.
What we need:
We began providing Garden Towers for families in the summer of 2018, and since then have built them with over 600 families through our partnership with The USANA Foundation. These Garden Towers allow families to grow their own vegetables, and feed their families an average of 3-5 meals each week with the greens. This increases nutrition, as well as teaching stewardship.
We are sewing Garden Towers to go all over the world. So far, they have been distributed and built in Kenya, Uganda, and Mexico. This is an amazing opportunity to use your skills to help families directly, and you can follow where the towers go!
What we need:
So many t-shirts are thrown out each year, and so we created a way to recycle them. The t-shirt dresses can be made and distributed to women and girls in Kenya, including the girls that we support at the rescue centers. We include the dresses in our rescue kits, so that when girls run, they have clothing waiting for them. We also provide kits each year on our gratitude trips as a Christmas present.
What we need:
cotton fabric for skirts
Plastic bags are banned in Kenya, including ziplocs. We sew drawstring bags for our HopeSaCs and rescue kits, and it also provides the women and girls attractive bags that they can use for other needs. We also use them for hygiene kits for boys in need.
What we need:
Donated t-shirts (we can use them for t-shirt bags)
cord for the bags
My husband and I went to Kenya with 100 Humanitarians this year and we are amazed at the way they served the people of Bomet and the Masai Mara. We not only built garden boxes but taught the people how to do so to become self sufficient. We also took part in building a training/mentoring center next to the sewing center. We set up a water project on the Mara. We taught and mentored the young men and young women students in a secondary school and at a girls shelter leaving many “Days for Girls” kits so the young girls can stay in school during their time of the month and continue their education. Definitely a worthy cause. All proceeds we donated went to the people we served and projects we worked on. I would totally go again! A life changing experience!
I was so very blessed to have the opportunity to go to Kenya with them earlier this year and was truly humbled not only by Heidi and the entire organization but by the amazing people in Kenya!! Thank you David and Moses and the group I was able to serve with!! All those involved and the volunteers for each expedition are amazing and bring life changing experiences to all involved.
I have some health issues and was worried about slowing them down and didn’t want to be a burden but was told that I was not to worry about it and that they would love to have me on their team. Although, I am sure that they served me more than I served them I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to go, serve and bless those around me! Thank you all for the amazing opportunity and yes…. can’t wait to go again!
I love serving as a volunteer and would love to serve on their board someday as they are truly making a difference in the world.
I’ve fallen in love with the work we do in Kenya. On both trips of which I’ve been a part, I’ve witnessed the pure love of spirit touching spirit. When we donated a cow to one lady, the entire village came out to greet us with a song of thanks that we could hear a quarter mile away. You can’t imagine what an incredibly life-altering experience that is! On the other trip, we built fences for garden areas to keep out livestock (think chickens and goats) and let the plants thrive. And thrive they did!
Oh yes … and safari. Never a bad thing. 🙂
Please, won’t you join us?
I took my family to work with this incredible organization just a couple weeks ago. Their connection with the community, their ability to have everyone actively participate, the culture…. everything was incredible. I worked hard, saw incredible sights, cried and built new friendships. My daughter’s (ages 8 and almost 10) were inspired and loved the experience as much as I did. We plan on volunteering next year as well.
I went to Kenya with 100 Humanitarians just a few weeks ago and took my 11 year old daughter. Not only did it give her confidence I have not seen in her in years, but she made lifelong friends and saw what it was really like to serve and make an impact. It will be the first of many trips for me becuase of the impact these beautiful people have had on me and the impact and relationship I want to continue to have with them. There is such much good that this organization is doing. On our trip we did projects in Bomet painting a learning center and planting trees along side the local people. We visited a Girls Rescue Center, and taught them how to make their own underwear from used tshirts. We went to a school and taught and gave out Days for Girls kits and played with the children. We went to the Maasai village and spent time learning from their culture and building relationships and playing with the children. We built a fence for Mama Helen and saw how beautifully she improved on the gardens she was given weeks before. We built several tower gardens, planted more trees, and threw seed balls to establish more families, schools, and organizations.
You go to Kenya to serve, and you leave Kenya with pieces of your heart left behind and a new outlook on life and the things that really matter. I can’t wait to go again!