Dream Stitches – Migrant and Refugee Women’s Sewing Program

Migrant and Refugee Centre Women's Group
Migrant and Refugee Centre Women's Group

Dream Stitches began in 2003 at the Anglican Parish of Box Hill, offering sewing skills to Sudanese women who wanted to learn. Over the years the group has expanded to become a multicultural group of women who meet in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. A year ago, the group moved to Box Hill South and now has students from Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iran, Solomon Islands, and Sudan. The volunteer teachers are women with a wide range of dress and quilt making skills.

During school terms the group meets on Fridays at 9.30am at St Aidan’s Church Hall, 10 Surrey St, Box Hill South.

The students make a variety of clothing for their families and last year some of the students and volunteers worked on extra days to complete approximately 80 quilts; 40 of which were sent to Nepal following the earthquake, 20 were given to the Brotherhood of St Laurence to assist efforts with the homeless and another 20 were specially made to welcome Syrian refugee families when they arrived in Eltham. It is wonderful to see the support and cooperation for people less fortunate.

Some students are very proficient and, under supervision, make choir robes and other clergy liturgical garments. While the women sew, their children are cared for in a playgroup run by volunteers. This area needs more helpers. Volunteers must have current police checks and Working with Children cards that are provided by the government and organised by Anglicare, a partner of the program.

The qualitative benefits for students include: improvements in language skills, confidence, dignity and self-respect leading to the enhancement of overall social skills, progress and pride in their achievements.  Friendships are formed and fun and laughter are encouraged as we all learn from each other.

Jennifer McKenzie