Sewing The Seeds story

Welcome to Sewing The Seeds and our new website! We are excited to introduce ourselves to our new friends and supporters and give a warm welcome back to those of you who have been with us since our birth. We hope you love our new website just as much as we do.

We have so much good news to share with you and the first exciting announcement is our partner Humanism Global merge with Sewing the Seeds. Humanism Global has been our employment partner since 2018 when Sakshi from Humanism first visited us. We have been working so closely together with the Humanism team because of our shared values and purpose. By joining forces we will be able to create even greater impact for the women we work with and for those in the future. To all our new followers to the STS family we are so looking forward to you walking alongside us on our journey to make the world a better place for all who live in it.

Here is a brief introduction to why and how we started STS, what we are doing now, and our vision for the future.

After being a traveller in love with India for many years I decided to spend my long service leave from teaching in 2011 by volunteering in a children’s home for children with disabilities in Pondicherry. This tiny little house held 95 children all with special needs. Although it was total chaos, it was also a life changing experience for me. Once I returned home I spent the year raising the money to build an extra floor to house the 95 children that lived there.

I remarkably achieved my aim with the help of my local community and The King David School where I was teaching.

The next year I returned to the newly built renovation and landed during one of India’s most destructive cyclones ever - Cyclone Thane. Pondicherry was a mess and I knew that I couldn’t possibly just ‘hang around’ Pondicherry when whole villages of people had been totally wiped out from the magnitude of the force of the cyclone.

I asked around the community to see what I could do and visited the local communities. After much searching I was introduced to Bruno Savio the founder of the NGO Samugam Trust which was supporting a tribal village on the edge of Pondicherry. Bruno took me to the village and the sight was horrific - 45 thatched huts ripped apart by the force of the cyclone and families who were just going about their day as if nothing had happened. Mothers looking after children,cooking over fires with utensils that had been salvaged from the rubble, babies playing in the mud, all of them sleeping on the ground in the open air.Their acceptance of their predicament was absolutely extraordinary.

I went back to Bruno’s office and we calculated how much it would cost to build from scratch 45 thatched huts. By May the same year, the village was totally rebuilt ! Unbeknownst to me, Meeting Bruno that day was the catalyst for the creation of STS.

In 2013 together with Bruno I launched STS, a space to provide safe and sustainable employment for the marginalised women that Samugan worked with. It was clear that money in the hands of a woman is more likely to be spent on her family, nutrition and education. Many of the women were from nomadic, tribal, sex worker and disabled communities, where cultural traditions including child marriage and gender based violence can have a significant impact on their lives.

From humble beginnings with just 3 women training in sewing on treadle sewing machines, STS has grown into its present incarnation as a thriving purpose built sewing centre that has impacted the lives of the many women who have trained and worked there. Since then, we have trained and supported nearly 200 women and have witnessed first-hand how supporting women to have access to dignified work offers them greater autonomy and security for themselves, their families and communities.

Since our birth Sewing the Seeds have grown from strength to strength, navigating the many challenges that we have had to face.One of our greatest challenges was Covid. During Covid we were forced to close for many months and our focus had to immediately shift to ensuring that the women were safe, were still paid a wage, and could have had access to the limited healthcare services, food and sanitation. The harsh social distancing measures were implemented, and the gendered implications on our women who were vulnerable to domestic violence, financial abuse and other harmful cultural practices were our constant concern. Adapting to the circumstances, the incredible women started making emergency masks for frontline workers in hospitals and also began training in fashion.With the help of our global community and our partners Samugam Australia we supported hundreds of families with emergency food packages and essential services. We are proud to say that we survived Covid !

At the end of 2022, nearly 3 years later, Sakshi and I finally returned to Pondicherry. It was, to say the least, an emotional reunion, full of hugs and tears of happiness. It was such a joy to see the women flourishing under the safe hands of Annie our manager.

Currently we are training and creating employment for 14 full-time women and have added fashion to our repertoire of skills, We have been able to achieve this with the support of our generous partners, Daughters of India. Through our partnership, every Daughters of India order now assists Sewing the Seeds in providing safe environments for more women to build their self-confidence and financial independence. We have such gratitude for their support and kindness and we look forward to creating more wonderful opportunities to grow our future together.

Our big dreams of ours have slowly become a reality, and we are so grateful for our supporters throughout our journey.

We urge our beautiful community to continue supporting us, so that we can continue to have greater impact on lives of more women, their generations and families to come.

Thank you for all of your ongoing support.

Gayle Factor

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