Project HELP: Refugees - Helping By Sewing

A sewing machine hums in one area of the room. Several women are gathered around the ironing board as they press the seams of the quilt blocks they have made. Laughter is heard as the women work together. On another day, they may be making leather earrings, fabric Nativity ornaments, or zippered pouches.

This is the Refugee Sewing Society, located at the SEND Relief Ministry Center in Clarkston, Georgia. As a faith-based non-profit, the Refugee Sewing Society serves refugee women from around the world, teaching them sewing, knitting, and jewelry-making skills. The handmade items they make are beautiful, and offer the women a supplemental income through the sales of the products they make. Along with teaching the women skills to make beautiful handmade items, the Refugee Sewing Society also offers the women access to resources such as ESL and citizenship classes. The Refugee Sewing Society is an artisan group for WorldCrafts, one of the WMU Compassion Ministries.

Susie Helton serves as the director of the Refugee Sewing Society. Susie leads this ministry and works with many volunteers in providing a space for the refugee women to gather for relationships as they learn to make the handmade items. Susie shares with us about her work with refugees.

 

Inspiration

When asked what she was surprised to learn about refugees, Susie responded, “Many of the ladies who work with us lived in refugee camps from 15-26 years. Even though they have lived through severe trauma, they inspire me with the hope they have to build a better life here in America.”

 

Sharing Her Faith

Susie wants to share the offer of eternal hope with the refugee women. She is able to share her faith on a daily basis with the women at Refugee Sewing Society. Along with talking about her faith on a day by day basis, Susie uses special occasions to talk about her faith. Susie shared, “At Thanksgiving, we had a special lunch. Each one of us shared something we are thankful for. I was able to share that I am most thankful for Jesus and the peace and forgiveness I have in my heart because of my faith in Him.” The Refugee Sewing Society also had a Valentine’s Day lunch for the women, and Susie was able to share that her love for them was because of the Father's love for her.

Susie prays for the women when they share their struggles with her, and celebrates with them when God answers prayer. Susie said, “I love showing them ways that our Heavenly Father cares and provides for them and for our ministry.”

 

Ways Others Help

There are many others who come alongside of Susie to help at the Refugee Sewing Society. Individuals and churches help them by praying, giving financially, donating supplies, and volunteering. Susie spoke of the many ways volunteers help. “They help teach the ladies, go to the markets and churches to sell products, give the ladies rides to class and back home, and love the ladies and form close friendships with them.”

 

Ways to Pray

Susie shared these requests as ways that you can pray for her and the Refugee Sewing Society.

  • Pray that all of the women would come the love and peace brought by eternal hope.
  • Pray for God’s provision for this ministry.
  • Pray that Susie and other leaders and volunteers will be faithful to lead the ministry in a way that honors and gives glory to the Father.


As you lift up Susie Helton and the Refugee Sewing Society in prayer, consider ways you can engage in a similar ministry near you. Do you have a passion for knitting, embroidery, or sewing that you could share in a ministry to refugees or internationals? What about other interests, such as scrapbooking, computer skills, or baking? Another way to help is to involve your Mission Friends or children’s missions groups in collecting needed supplies, such as buttons, thread, or yarn. Check with the ministry beforehand to find out their specific need for supplies, as storage is sometimes an issue.

Please keep Susie Helton in your prayers, especially as she shares the offer of eternal hope with the women at Refugee Sewing Society.

Visit WorldCrafts.org for products created by refugee artisans at Refugee Sewing Society.


By Joye Smith, national WMU Preschool Consultant

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