Have you ever felt helpless to make a difference to the lives of others in the world who are less well off than we are here in the west?  If you donate money do you wonder if it will get to those actually in need?  I felt that way but then an avenue opened up to use my gift of sewing to make a difference to the lives of boys and girls in Africa.

A friend was knitting jumpers to send to Africa and she said she had patterns for pinafore dresses for little girls and I said ‘yes please, I’ll have the patterns’.  I had lots of material at home that was left over from making things. What an opportunity to use this fabric and make a difference to girls lives. I started to cut out using the four sizes of patterns to make the most of the fabric and I had ended up with 30 pinafore dresses!!  I didn’t realise I had so much material.

So, how did I then get them to Africa? Richard and Jan Bacon at Christ Church Downend, go to Uganda with Mission Direct and they were thrilled to be able to take some to the families they know who are in need. They took 9 pinafore dresses out in 2016 and have since taken another 8 in 2017. We then had a retired GP, Bryony Pannell, come to Christ Church Downend who goes to Malawi for 3 months at a time twice a year.  I asked her if she felt there was an outlet for the pinafore dresses in the area where she worked and again she was thrilled to have some but she asked me if I could also make boys shorts for her to take!  That sent me into a bit of a panic as I didn’t have a pattern but I asked amongst my friends and we came up with a pattern that I could adapt and use so I started to also make boys shorts! Bryony has taken seven pinafore dresses and six pairs of boys shorts to Malawi in 2017.

It has been so exciting for me to be able to use the gift of sewing that God has given me, use up material that has sat in the cupboard doing nothing for some time and to know that boys and girls in Africa will have some clothes to enjoy.  The Bible says it is more blessed to give than receive and I can affirm that making these clothes to give to children in Africa has given me a connection with a country that seemed so far away. I trim the pinafore dresses with lace, ribbon and/or fancy top stitching and attach a label to them.  I have been made aware that if a little girl is dressed in nice clothes she is less likely to be abused. I label each dress ‘Made for you with love by Monica in the UK’ so the gift is more personal to the child/parent as they have a name to associate with the gift.

Do you have a talent whereby you could bless others less fortunate than yourself.  It might be interesting to explore and something may arise that surprises you, as this project did me. Anyone interested in sewing pinafores can contact Monica via Christ Church Parish Office on 0117 908 9867.

Monica Jarritt