On Monday we took a break from During Town & the animal husbandry to set things up at the sewing school in Grafton.
Grafton is home to the “displaced” people of Freetown – this includes refugees, polio victims, the war wounded and amputees. Pastor Alex who is based here has a huge heart and a growing vision for the place and with a good team on board he’s seeing it produce fruit.
There wasn’t much to do here. All the kit had been transported on the Friday & stored in Alex’s school – but we did have the tables to assemble. The building that is being rented has work going on, both inside decorating and outside to make the grounds more secure, so we had to clear a load of junk out the way before we could set up the machines.
Several of the women, already enrolled on the course, came in to see the place and we got them to try out the machines, had a short interview with one of them about her hopes for the training before chatting to Alex & the tutor about their vision for these women. About 20 or so have signed for the course which includes learning skills from sewing, to embroidery & knitting. Several of the women are from the war wounded & polio camps desperate for a chance to support themselves – which is the aim of the training.
We may need to look into sending more machines over somehow. The machines we’ve sent are very good quality but may need converting to foot pedaled ones if they are to use them for business later on, as they are quicker to use.
Alex was eager to show us the small school he runs which is just across the road. He gives us a guided tour and we are officially welcomed by every class (they all stand up and chant at you) from nursery to secondary level. The primary class were less formal and after the welcome, dived to the front to give us high fives and pull at our skin – it was hard to get out! This is perhaps the greatest contrast with England – the kids are so friendly and engaging! Probably due to less technological junk around and the fact that they cannot be work shy – all have to pull their weight to keep things going. We often see kids of 6 or 7 carrying large water containers on their heads from the wells and rivers. Many unfortunately are not at school but work along with the market traders or on the farms so it’s a real achievement to fill the schools as it really eats into the family pocket.
But there is a light in Grafton. The displaced are finding purpose and support. The good news to the poor so clearly in action. May God strengthen the crew here in all the challenges they face.