By Deborah Parish

I have always loved sewing and especially loved making children’s clothes for my daughter and for my friends’ children. Through a web search one day, I became aware that it was possible to make clothes for children who in all likelihood will never have access to one new, well made, clean piece of clothing in their life time and thus I began the little sewing group that became “Craft and Hope”.

We have now evolved into a large group of over 100 sewers that takes pride in making the best possible dresses, shorts, quilts, baby clothes and reusable feminine hygiene kits (Days for Girls kits) that we possibly can.

Our group firmly believes that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and so we offer our gifts with the philosophy that every child is unique and precious and deserves the very best that we can humbly offer.

Through our sewing (and knitting, crocheting), we are able to reflect with each other about the privilege we enjoy and we learn more about the lives of others we hope we might touch for the better in some way. It was a big learning curve for many of us in the group to face the reality that many children are without basic “necessities” such as toilets, clean water, clothing, food, shelter, medical care, education and the protection of a competent, loving adult.

The joy felt by the group when we have seen a photo of a precious child wearing one of our garments is hard to beat. As a social worker in my day job, I truly feel that the group has been the best piece of  “community development” social work I have ever undertaken.

We have taken a special interest in the lives of girls and young women (who are the most vulnerable and exploited population on the planet). Through becoming an official “Days for Girls” team we have been able to partner with many overseas aid organisations and provide complete reusable feminine hygiene kits to be distributed so that girls are able to continue to go school after the start of menstruation. In many circumstances beginning menstruation marks the end of education for a young girl and means very early motherhood.

As well as partnering with many overseas charities we also donate our goods regularly to a women’s and baby shelter here in South Australia and supply many country S.A hospitals with baby bundles for women who birth in crisis situations.

The generosity of local communities has been astounding, we run completely on donations of fabric and wool etc. Word has spread about our activities and people keep cleaning out their cupboards and producing lovely fabric for us.

Not only do I see the group as touching (in a small way), the lives of children and young people that we will never meet, it has also really bought so much personally to all of us involved; close friendships, skills recognised and improved, learning from each other and absolute pleasure in each others company. For many women in the group it has given purpose and meaning, something to get up for each day.

Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about our group, we “live to give” and hope we can inspire others to do the same. That’s what life is all about.

Craft and Hope can be found at St Johns, Lutheran Church hall (21 South Tce Kapunda), on the second Saturday of the month, 10-3.You can also find them on Facebook “Craft and Hope, Kapunda Sewing Bee”. We appreciate donations of good, clean cotton dress lengths, wool, new children’s and young women’s underpants, new baby clothes and darker coloured flannelette fabric (which we need to make feminine hygiene kit components), so we can continue to help those in need. We do not accept second hand clothes.