Sewing skills have largely been lost in the United States as manufacturers moved overseas. We hear that over and over, so sometimes it’s easy to forget that so many people (many, if not most of them women) around the world still rely on sewing as a primary means of income, whether through their own business or through work in a factory setting.
A finished garment is a mystery to many of us. It’s hard to understand all the work and skill it takes to make something when all we see is the finished product. But a really good seamstress knows exactly what went into the garment. She’s both a surgeon and a visionary.
When I was little and shopping with my mom for clothes, I would get so upset whenever I picked up something I liked, and she would say “but I could make that for you.” Now as an adult, as I see my mom’s wheels turning as she imagines how to go about creating something she’s seen or has only imagined, I’m in awe. I feel the same sense of awe (but perhaps also jealousy) for my sister who always says “yes” when I send her a photo and ask if she can make whatever it is for me.
There may not seem to be anything romantic or creative about sitting at a sewing machine in a factory, but I believe there is something bigger that the ability to sew opens up for individuals who have the skill. A world of possibilities opens to creating anything, bringing something unimagined to life, making something with your own hands (and sometimes a machine) that you can be proud of, and knowing that you have a skill that can always open doors and provide for you.
So when I discovered that Kiva’s micro-lending platform allows lenders to support women around the world who are building their own sewing businesses, I was pretty excited. I think I may have had lots of misconceptions about Kiva, but I’m realizing that there really is something for everyone. Even if you’re not inspired by encouraging sewing, it’s easy to explore the site and connect with someone who needs a loan to take their livelihood to the next level as they work to support themselves and their families.
Since I had already decided this week is a “want free” week for me, I’m spending my money instead on supporting Rosa from Colombia as she seeks a $425 loan for sewing supplies in her workshop where she already employs other women. There’s something simultaneously tough and kind about her when I look at her photo, so I went with my gut and supported her campaign. Maybe with your help, we can get her loan up to 100% funded. (Support her here!)
This is the first loan I’ve made through Kiva, and what’s really exciting about it is the 98% repayment rate means that I can loan the money right back out to another loan seeker once this one is repaid, so the creativity, passion and empowerment can keep flowing.
[All photos via Kiva.org]