It may be the time of year when we’re all thinking about filling the bottom of the Christmas tree, but for one University of South Carolina fashion merchandising major, she’s got her eyes set on something much larger.
Instead of filling just one Christmas tree with toys and gifts, she’s hoping to fill an entire community with a skill that could reward a very needy group of women.
In a report by WLTX, a mission trip to Zambia in the summer of 2010 was all it took for Amy Woodell to fall in love with the women and children there. When she got back home, she started Clothed in Hope, hoping the non-profit group would give widows in one area there the skill of sewing.
“For us, it’s just a hobby. Like, ‘Hey, let’s learn how to knit’ or, ‘Let’s learn how to sew.’ But for these women, this is a completely new identity. This is a completely new life for them,” explains Woodell.
The new trade could open many doors for the women there.
“For one woman, Teresa, she does want to open her own boutique. And I don’t know how possible that is in this society, for one woman to own her own business. But, I think if these women are already being empowered out of poverty, anything’s possible,” Woodell says, “Another woman, Doreen, really just wants to sew clothes for her children so that they can go to school. Because all children who want to go to a good school have to have school uniforms.”
After graduation, Woodell is moving to Zambia to get the project started. The women will learn to sew and, if they choose, can take part in Clothed in Hope’s Re-styled program. “Which is just going to basically take old, second-hand t-shirts and create them into something for Americans to purchase,” says Woodell.
The t-shirts will raise more money to continue the program and get their name out there. “It’s really neat that, maybe in two years or so, it can be self-sustaining. And the women can really take ownership of this, like this is their product that they’re making,” Woodell says, “Our main goal is just to break the cycle of poverty one stitch at a time.”
Clothed in Hope has already gotten tons of support from the community, and you can help out as well.
To follow Amy’s journey and keep track of the women’s progress, check out their website.