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Success Story - The Sewing Machine

In 2004 we had been partnering with the Rose of Sharon school for six years. It is located near Barranquilla, Colombia in Villamar, which was at that time a settlement of desplazados (refugees). In 1998 when I met the leaders of the school it was under a tree with about thirty little plastic chairs and a chalkboard. Bbi had recruited a large church in Colombia, a prosperous family in Tulsa, and the missions dept. of the North Carolina District of the Assemblies of God, and together we had funded the construction of a three story brick school building. We were also providing monthly funds to help pay the teachers.

At 7:00 a.m. on a morning in 2004 I was observing the children arriving to the school. One mother got my attention. As her children left her side and entered the gate she was crying. She continued to stand outside the gate for a moment, obviously distraught. I asked my interpreter to try to find out what was causing her to be so upset. Her response, “I had nothing to feed my children before bringing them to the school.”

I inquired of the leaders about the problem. They said there were many mothers in that situation. I asked how we could help. They said if they could get some sewing machines they could help these ladies earn some income.

Weeks later Larry and I delivered six used portable sewing machines that had been donated by ladies in Oklahoma. A circle of ladies sat and cried tears of joy at the sight of those machines. Machines that had been sitting useless in closets and attics in Oklahoma.

Today there is a building next to the school. It houses rows of industrial sewing machines and large tables for design and cutting material. Many women earn a living there. They make uniforms for several schools, They make beautiful clothing that is sold in retail stores. It is a thriving business. In one corner they keep the few little machines we took them and they love to tell visitors it all started with those machines given by ladies in Oklahoma.