There are now 8 women utilizing their sewing skills to earn a small income. This week, they proudly completed their first order of 100 masks and are now on their way to fulfilling the other orders that have come in since we mentioned this initiative on 1 May 2020. As we continued speaking with more people applying for financial assistance, it was clear that work did not just provide a salary. More importantly, it provides purpose and a sense of self-worth. Hence, thank you Sew-Forth and everyone for the warm support that has enabled these women to say to themselves, “As others overcome, Sew Can We!”
In 2003, Mdm Zhou moved into a public rental flat to raise her 2 young sons single-handedly. To put food on the table and to give her children an education, she worked as a seamstress. Also, to supplement her income, she supplied Hainanese kueh to a stall near her home. Supplying home-made confectionery is something she continues to do occasionally.
4 years ago, Mdm Zhou was diagnosed with cancer and as a survivor, she takes her medication religiously and ensures that she is up to speed with her routine medical check-ups. She is also very careful with her food and prepares her own meals.
When the circuit breaker began, the factory she worked at stopped operating. Without an income, she survived mainly on her savings. So, when she learnt of the opportunity to be a part of Sew Can We, she got involved immediately and is now occupied sewing masks.
While Mdm Zhou had remained optimistic and believing faithfully that life will somehow turn out fine, she is aware that friendships matter. She tells us that by being a part of Sew Can We, she is meeting so many different people who value her skills. “Maybe, being forced to stay at home was a type of good luck because at the factory I only work and do not get to meet people,” she chuckled.
The circuit-breaker has been a very busy period for us as we learnt to work with less boots on the ground and to keep community ties strong online. Our members had to learn too, and it was heartening to see parents and young people proceeding with many meetings and training sessions virtually. What also kept us busy were the many offers of assistance from people we did not know before. While we could not take up every offer, the friendship extended lifted spirits and energized us. Sew-Forth was an offer we could take on which has interestingly widened the social circle of women like Mdm Zhou at a time when socializing and networking as we normally know it, is forbidden.
We are hoping the solidarity, empathy, compassion, and connectedness among people remain with us beyond Covid-19.
Wishing you health and peace of mind.
I am certain that a Sewing Machine would relieve as much human suffering as a hundred Lunatic Asylums, and possibly a good deal more.” ― Margaret Atwood