They’re worlds apart, but two sewing groups in Nelson and Kabul have a common thread of support.
Global Stitch Up, who meet at Nelson’s Cultural Conversations’ art hub, is a group of former refugees and migrants. In Afghanistan, Ejaad is a small collective of women who meet discreetly to sew goods for a living.
Using the profits from Global Stitch Up, Tanya Nock buys colourful purses from Ejaad, which she sells in the Morrison Square space she founded.
“The women are helping each other,” Nock said.
Global Stitch Up is made up of 15 former refugees and migrants who take turns to lead workshops, making goods to sell, such as scrunchies, face pads and bags.
“This is community coming together,” Nock said. “It’s about the women building relationships, having a social life and friendship, hobbies.”
Meanwhile, Ejaad is a group of 32 women living in Kabul who meet discreetly to learn English and sew together.
Ejaad co-founder Andrea Morris said while small, the sewing initiative was “huge” for the women, who live under increasingly authoritarian Taliban rule.
Morris, who is from Taranaki and teaches at an international school in India, has seen the conditions in Afghanistan first hand.
“None of the women have work,” Morris said. “Since the Taliban took over it’s really hard to get jobs there.”
The economy is poor, and many men have been killed. Many families have resorted to selling their household goods to support themselves, she said.
The sewing group was a lifeline for the women, said Morris.
“A hundred percent of the sales goes back to the women. They have autonomy on how they spend the money. This could mean buying milk, food, or medicine for children.”
While the news was bleak for women living under Taliban rule in Afghanistan, the global support for Ejaad – and for other grassroots initiatives working behind the scenes – was heartening, Morris said.
Ejaad’s goods were now sold all over the world, and after a recent fundraising campaign the not-for-profit was able to build a learning centre, Morris said.
Next year, they planned to buy computers and arrange for healthcare.
Ejaad’s connection with Cultural Conversations was meaningful, Morris said. “It’s really wonderful to have the support in Nelson.”
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Source: STUFF, Amy Ridout