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Patchwork Project – Lima, Peru

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Sabina’s mother sold her as a slave when she was only seven years old. She never learned to read, and was mistreated and abused most of her life. The cycle of poverty continued: Sabina’s young daughter also became a mother, and soon had five children.

A grandmother before her time, Sabina kept one of the children to raise. They lived in a shanty-town and she found work at the local market. With her 5-year-old granddaughter, she would stay up all night to make sure no one stole from the stands, which was a very dangerous job.

Sabina had little hope of escaping from poverty until she joined the Patchwork Project. She now earns a living, and can be at home to care for her granddaughter.

Located in Lima, Peru, Patchwork Project provides mothers with income and a trade, so that they can be home with their children.

Women in poor areas often sweep streets or work as maids 12 to 16 hours a day, leaving their children home alone. Shanty-towns are known for abuse and many other dangers, yet children as young as five are left to take care of even younger children. But Sabina, and the rest of the “Patchwork” group, can now stay home with their children.

Patchwork started by providing quilting classes to local women. Once the women had gained skill, they took on various quilting and craft projects. They catch on quickly to the basics of sewing and patchwork. However, they often need to learn about colour matching and may need to work on their needle skills.  Most of the women have never sewn before, so learning to create export quality products takes time.

The women come to the workshop twice a week for a half day. Then they take work home with them.  The Patchwork Project provides sewing and quilting tools that the women can take home, and work that requires sewing machines is done when they are together.

They take a break each work session to hear a voluntary devotional. Each message is chosen to speak to the group’s needs. Knowing that Peruvians are relational, project leadership invest time in each person, seeing a big change in their confidence and sense of self-worth.  They learn to trust each other, have bonded and developed friendships.

Rubina, says that she has learned what teamwork means. “We help one another, share with one another and really need one another. Together we can do beautiful and really big things!"
Patchwork’s goal is that each woman would be able to make her own projects and start a small business from her home. The group is small right now (14 women) and is only one drop in an ocean of need.  Team leader Elisabeth says “I think it is a valuable drop, but I would like much more initiative taken to make a change for the millions living in poverty in Lima.”

Last year, the Patchwork team, helped Sabina build her own house. The modest 7 by 3 metre home is the most secure place she’s ever lived.

Elisabeth says that Sabina is eager to work, and is the busiest in the group. For the past three years, Sabina has been attending church and taking her granddaughter, who has also shown a great excitement for the Lord. "I am very thankful for the income and happy about learning more from God's Word," she says.

Sabina told the Patchwork team that she never knew how to show her love to her daughter or her granddaughter. When she started to understand more about Jesus, she prayed that he would help her change her attitude towards her loved ones. Today Sabina is more patient and loving, and is able to hug and kiss her granddaughter.

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