As part of their training, students enrolled in Threads of Hope classes produce essential clothing and hygiene products for other vulnerable women and children. Annually, they have had the following impact:
Physically-challenged children from Tenwek’s Special Needs Clinic have received cloth diaper kits
Children in the Orphans and Vulnerable Children program received school uniforms
School girls in the Menstrual Hygiene Management program have received reusable sanitary towels, allowing them to continue attending school
Women in correctional facilities have received reusable sanitary towels
Claiming God’s Plan for a Future and a Hope (Jeremiah 29:11)
Threads of Hope is a vocational training center for vulnerable women who live in extreme poverty in the greater Bomet area. It was founded under the direction of Tenwek Community Health and Development in 2017 and operates in partnership with Bethesda Africa Gospel Church to identify, recruit, train, and disciple students. Volunteer Suzie Vaughan, who has traveled to Tenwek to serve for past 11 years with her husband, Read Vaughan, M.D., was instrumental in creating and developing the program.
During an eight-month tailoring apprenticeship, six students gain vocational training and life skills, develop business acumen, and are mentored in the Christian faith. They are taught to produce school uniforms for orphans, sanitary pads for use in prisons and schools, purses, aprons and other items for sale to visitors.
When proficiency is demonstrated, each student receives a treadle sewing machine at graduation. The program pays two-thirds of the $150 machine cost while the student has “earned” the balance through the products she has made during training to sell or donate. This enables each woman to return to her village equipped to begin her own business.
FOT provides the funds for sewing machines and materials.
As of the beginning of 2022, 28 young women have graduated from Threads of Hope. A sixth group of trainees began classes in January 2022. However, the impact of this program goes far beyond the students, as they (and their teachers) collectively provide for their 56 children. The reports coming back from previous graduates are positive in that all are using their machines and skills in some capacity. Ten women (59%) are actively involved in a dignified business and one is an instructor at the vocational school.
Their work includes starting a small sewing shop, making clothing repairs at a local boarding schools for boys, sewing bags for tea factories, and making school uniforms for the children of neighbors. Upon reuniting with Suzie a year after her graduation, one woman gave her a warm embrace and said, “Thank you for changing my life! Not a day goes by that I cannot find a way to make some money for my family using my machine.” The modest investment of a few hundred dollars per student pays huge rewards to her family for decades to come. Restoring dignity and hope to these vulnerable women is priceless gift.
The Threads of Hope center is located a five-minute walk from Tenwek Hospital and visitors are welcome to stop by Monday through Friday. Visitors are invited to help by bringing snacks, organizing cupboards, cutting out project materials, joining in morning devotions, etc. If you have spare room in your luggage when traveling to Tenwek, please contact Suzie to see if fabric or supplies could use a ride across the ocean!
The video posted below captures the joy of a recent graduation ceremony for Threads of Hope students.