When local quilter Pippa Moore decided to teach sewing to widows and women living with HIV/AIDS, she had no idea how far-reaching the consequences would be.
Moore’s project was motivated by the needs she saw when accompanying her husband David on one of his regular jaunts to Uganda with ACTS, a water-development project.
She saw the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS as she visited villages where widows and grandmothers were often the only support for orphaned children.
Most of these women survived by farming a small plot of land and were often reduced to begging from neighbours to feed their children.
Pippa has a plan
As an accomplished quiltmaker and teacher, Pippa wondered whether teaching these women to sew might give them a source of income, as well as hope for the future.
And so the Bitengye Sewing Group was born. In 2009, Pippa and other volunteers held the first workshop.
Women learned how to operate treadle sewing machines and produce quilts, shoulder bags, place mats and other marketable items which were sold back in Canada, and provided them with an income with which to provide for their families.
Recheal Bugumba was one of those women. She was a 32-year-old widow who is HIV positive and has five children, living in Kikagate (chick-a -gat-ee) in the southern part of the country where it borders Tanzania. When she learned to sew through the project, she was able to look after her family.
She spent her first earnings on a door and windows for her house, and for school fees for her children.
That was not the end of the story, however. With renewed hope for her own life and that of her children, she wanted to share with others. So she founded and now leads a Living Positively with AIDS group in her area, and is a HIV/AIDS counsellor. Last year, with sponsorship from Canadians, she completed her nurses’ training.
Now Recheal has a new dream: to use this training to provide medical care to her community and support to those, especially orphans, with HIV/AIDS. She envisions a clinic where people can go for diagnosis, procurement of basic medications, and for treatment of minor ills. In faith, she used her own money to purchase a piece of land for this clinic, and has asked for help to build it. She’s been using her sewing skills to make luggage tags out of African fabrics, selling them for $5. Profits go to the clinic, and help her continue other sewing responsibilities.
Moore and other volunteers are holding a fundraiser for Recheal’s Dream on Friday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at St. Peter’s Anglican Church Hall at 218 Church St. in Comox. Tickets are $10.
The evening will feature a photo presentation by Moore, a guest appearance by the Panache Singers of Nanaimo, a silent auction, door prizes, refreshments and opportunities to purchase Recheal’s luggage tags. Proceeds will help raise the roof on Recheal’s dream.
Buy tickets at the church, from Moore (250-339-3845) or at the door.