Iron Man, Pressing on!Rich Stigall
by Marsha Campbell
It is a sunny afternoon as we venture to the Gulu Sewing Center. The sewing center is a local business enterprise empowered by GO Threads, a creative partnership launched a year ago by GO Project. The U.S. partnership is driven by individual teams. Friendly competition. Creative entrepreneurship. Changing conversations. Moving from pure aid to production. Big collective impact. All fueled by love for children the world’s left behind.
The Global Orphan Project started GO Threads to: (a) generate revenue to sustain the costs of orphan care; (b) provide quality clothing, including school uniforms, for children in care and other hurting children; and (c) create local jobs in some of the poorest communities in the world. GO Threads represents a new and creative partnership to address poverty devastating children at the end of humanity’s line. So our desire through GO Threads is to help pay for orphan care in a way that promotes dignity and production, not institutional dependency. To promote grassroots change. To promote personal connections that matter.
GO launches sewing centers that, in their own small way, can begin to change the cycle of poverty in some of the poorest villages of our world. An order sent, not only clothes a child…but also gives the men and women doing the work a chance at a better life, with the dignity that comes with having a job and providing for family. These men and women then spend the money they earn in their local economy, helping to create more jobs and giving others a chance to improve their lives, as well. They help put local clothes on the backs of their own precious children. They get out of aid lines and become part of solutions.*
In strides a smiling, tailor named Godfrey. Today he is delighted to give us a tour and testimony of the sewing center’s production, measured both in lives and garments. Several treadle sewing machines line the perimeters as hanging school uniforms and sweaters decorate the walls in bright blues, radiant reds and cheery prints. Godfrey introduces us to many of the sewing center staff. We sit in a circle and share Fantas and Cokes as their stories unfold. Godfrey shares that his life is now better. He is able to provide for his family and save a little as well. His colleague has been able to purchase a bicycle that allows her easier and faster transport where she needs to go. She laughs aloud saying she is so very happy. Pride and a new found dignity are shared by this team of seamstresses and tailors. In their first year they have produced over one thousand uniforms. They are hoping to gain a new order with a nearby secondary school for 1,500 uniforms.
He then took us to meet another tailor. Together, they showed us how they “pump iron.” (left) Their irons are heavyweights as they are designed with a large reservoir above the plate which holds red-hot charcoals to power their press! Every day, they tailor their work-out with these heavy smoking irons to smooth out every wrinkle.
These are truly Iron Men and Women—pressing on and “sowing” a future of hope for themselves, the community and the school children that will look and feel so smart.
*(GO Threads: Year 1. Thirty-seven Threads teams across America. 4,856 children get a school uniform. Our sewing centers generated enough profit to care for 90+ children for an entire year. That’s an entire village!)