Originally founded in 1996 to provide sewing classes for Somali refugee women, twenty years later the Multicultural Women’s Sewing Group (MWSG) welcomes women and children of any culture, faith, age or background.
Sessions are held each Wednesday and Saturday afternoon in a church hall in Brunswick, just behind busy Sydney Road.
This campaign aims to cover the operating costs of MWSG for 2017. With additional grants secured for special projects and events, this funding will be directed to the wages of our trained facilitator who assists the women in their creative endeavours. Our women demonstrate the power of making something from nothing whilst sharing skills, life experiences, enthusiasm for the craft and a cup of tea.
The women who sew with us come from all over suburban Melbourne, some travelling up to 30 kilometres to come each week. On a typical afternoon, we welcome 15-20 women from over 30 different countries of origin.
“By coming here we’re talking to each other, we’re learning a language and we’re learning a skill” Jocelyn (Lebanon)
“If I come here and everyone respects me, I feel this is mine and I can respect everybody too” Mala (Nepal).
In this way, your contribution directly enhances both the artistic and social diversity of Melbourne.
WHY WHAT WE DO IS SPECIAL
We believe we are unique in Melbourne, maybe even Australia. We are proud of our core mission of valuing everyone in a spirit of creativity and friendliness.
We actively welcome people from diverse cultural, linguistic, religious, social, health and economic backgrounds.
Many of the women cannot afford a sewing machine and may never have sewn before. MWSG provides an opportunity to use a machine free of charge as well as free or low cost fabrics. Women are encouraged to make donations if they are able.
This allows many women to create clothes and household necessities at little cost thereby reducing their financial burden.
For many women it is their only outing each week so coming along reduces their sense of social isolation whilst enhancing their self esteem.
Additionally, making useful things of beauty leads to a sense of satisfaction.
In this way, MWSG is extremely proud to have supported many women as they transition from new-arrival to employed and connected members of the community.
By providing information and creating opportunities to collaborate on community art projects, we are also a vital link to support networks such as the art and health sectors.
Over the years we have been involved in various community art events including Coburg Carnivale, Pepper Tree Place (Faith, Food, Fabric and Fun Celebrations) and A Gracious Pursuit Exhibition with Sisterworks (Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival).
We have supported other community organisations such as Enable Social Enterprise (making dog bandanas for their online store) and Lentara Uniting Care’s Asylum Seeker Project where our members help Asylum Seeker women create a simple item.
Unlike other sewing classes, women are encouraged to bring their children providing a safe place of play around creative women.
Lastly, as our fabulous team of volunteers develop their own communication and teaching skills, MWSG builds the social capacity of the wider community as these skills are translated into other settings.
WHY YOU SHOULD HELP
Most of our fabric, sewing machines and materials are donated and Brunswick Baptist Church kindly provides the venue and overheads. Over the years, MWSG has also been supported by a variety of government and corporate grants, private donations and fund-raising.
Recent changes to funding are now challenging our capacity to offer this free service. Without this funding we may have to reduce our sessions or close our doors completely.
We are however, committed to the way creativity builds harmony amongst so many different women. We are seeking supporters to help us to continue to do what we do in 2017. For example, a generous donation of $600 will cover our costs for 4 weeks – allowing us to welcome more of Melbourne’s most marginalised women into our safe and creative space.
For more information, please see our website, video and blog or contact:
Jennifer Mok – Coordinator
jypmok at gmail.com