Courtland Baptist women sew new dresses for Rwanda
Published 12:37 pm Saturday, August 16, 2014
COURTLAND—After donating 39 dresses last year, the women’s group at Courtland Baptist Church felt inspired and went into sewing mode soon after the clothes were picked up by Rwandan Hugs, a non-profit formed by a Southampton County native.
Carol Sewell said that after learning how receptive the community was to the dresses last year, and knowing that many more live in tattered clothing, made them want to have as many dresses as they could make. They ultimately made 117 dresses.
“Some of the girls have never had a new dress in their life,” she said. “We got more enthused and just started sewing.”
Between her on the sewing machine, and Nan Grissom, who sewed on the parts requiring to be worked by hand, it took about four hours for each dress. Sewell said it was all worth it.
“Oh, we enjoy it so much we feel almost guilty,” she said. “I think we get as much enjoyment out of it as the children when they get the dresses.
“I don’t have any children anymore, little girls to sew for, so it gives me an outlet. It is wonderful to be able to help them.”
Audrey Gagner is the director of the church’s program and she said they have been doing this for five years. They enjoy working with Rwandan Hugs partially because the program’s director, Nancy Strachan, returns each year and shows them where there money went.
“We have given seeds, shoes, and she comes back and shows us the children that have gotten those items, and their faces are just such a glow, and it is such an inspiration,” she said. “We have given goats, chickens and fruit trees. It brings up your wealth a lot in the community just to have a goat because of the milk it provides and the fertilizer. You can also sell the offspring.”
“It has been rewarding to do.”
Strachan, who grew up in Newsoms, said that a lady from her hometown baptist church told the ladies about the program, she went over to speak, and the rest is history.
“Having Courtland Baptist support Rwandan Hugs has really been the wind beneath my wings,” she said. “It is partly because being here is coming home for me, as I am a Southampton County girl.
“But they have just been such a support. A lot of our ministries have been enhanced by their donations.”
Being able to see the children is also a help, and this year, they will be helping the children in the town of Mbyo.
“Normally, I bring lots of audio visuals back, such as pictures of people wearing the dresses or posing with the goats. They know who is getting it. It’s not just a stranger in a far-away country. It becomes more of a relationship of someone they know through me.”
Rwandan Hugs gives emphasis to children, impoverished families and genocide survivors. Strachan got her start in 2007 after she had been invited to visit Rwanda by a genocide survivor. She spent two weeks there, and it inspired her to become an ambassador for several organizations, schools and ministries. In 2010, Rwandan Hugs was created and is a tax-exempt status non-profit. HUGS stands for Help Us Get Started.
For more information on the program, or to donate, contact Strachan at 540-586-4446 or email RwandanHUGS@aol.com. The non-profit’s website is www.rwandanhugs.com.