Art of sewing gives refugees new opportunities

A local organization is focusing on friendship, community and building skills among women, specifically refugee women right here in the Queen City, teaching them to make a product and make money, all through the art of sewing.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A local organization is focusing on friendship, community and building skills among women, specifically refugee women right here in the Queen City, teaching them to make a product and make money, all through the art of sewing.

At the Make Welcome Sewing School, the hum of the sewing machine is therapeutic. The women are refugees from all over the world. Some from Burma, Eretria, and Afghanistan. Now these amazing women are together, in one place, learning to sew.

"They didn't have any choice of where they lived. They were given furniture,” says Make Welcome Sewing School founder Beth Pinckney. “They were given clothes. They didn't get to make any of those decisions, so coming to sewing class gives them the opportunity to start making decisions of their own."

Beth Pinckney started the Make Welcome Sewing School back in 2013, to give refugee women a way to make money, without having to work long hours outside of the home.

"The first time was a little hard. But I try, try, try, and now it's much better," says Khall Ciin, a student.

Khall Ciin joined the class last year, excelled quickly, and now makes dresses for a local children's clothing company, Holley and Sage.

"I taught how to make one of my tops and I noticed some girls in class that were really good and could do it, and I asked if they could work for me and they did and they've been great," says Holly and Sage owner, Jennifer Shields.

Shields works with Khall each week, giving her the materials and the designs, then picks up the finished products a few days later. But for Jennifer, it's about more than dresses.

"When I hear the stories of where they came from and where they get to be now. They've helped me more than I think I've helped them," Shields says.

Pinckney hopes the sewing room continues to be a form of healing.

"We give and our volunteers give, but we get back so much from these women."

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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