The Blanket Blog

Children at the SAW safe house

Room to Grow Foundation is working with Social Action for Women on a new project to generate income for boarding house projects and support women who have survived trafficking. The new project produces patchwork blankets, bags and pillowcases made from traditional Burmese cloth and provides training to trafficked women which helps them get job placements and gives them an income. All of our products can be made to order and shipped directly to your home after payment through Paypal, money transfer or by cheque or they can be purchased in Saskatoon in a limited number at the Better Good Store.

The project had been kicking around in our minds for some time, but it was the fortuitous meeting of Deborah, an independent volunteer who finances a yearly trip from Australia to train women in income generation skills, that got us kick started. What began as a chance conversation in a coffee shop ended up as a sewing training with 11 participants. So the blanket project begun.

Women at work

We were very fortunate to have Deborah following the women for the next few weeks, giving further training and helping to hone their skills. Over the course of the first month, the women produced a total of 70 lap sized or baby sized patchwork blankets in a beautiful array of colors.

The cost of the blanket includes the costs of the material, thread and other sewing supplies. It includes a fair wage for the women who sewed the quilt. These women are living in SAW’s safe house for trafficked women and are receiving help and assistance to meaningfully integrated into society after some horrible experiences. The blanket production helps get them working independently, making money for themselves and their families and feeling proud about their work. It also gives them valuable experience which will help them take that first step out of the safe house and into a job and a home of their own.

Above these fixed costs, the blanket price also allows for some money to support SAW’s safe house and project for trafficked women and some money for Room to Grow to support children’s projects.

Busy hands make bright work

Its just one of the ways that we are trying to diversify our income as a charitable group and to answer the question: how does a children’s foundation become sustainable? Every month we pay for rice and food but how do we get money coming in every month? More importantly, how can we help our partners get income to support their work so that they no longer need our assistance? As the economic climate continues to cool, these questions have become more pressing by the day.

While we ponder the answers, the women sew on, and start to get excited about the possibilities the program presents. Starting out with simple two-color square patterns, some of the sewers are starting to challenge themselves and explore more complicated designs.

When I suggested that we try other products, like handbags and pillow cases, the excitement increased. We looked at pictures together of beautiful work done by other women. I thought they would start simple with the bags, as we had with the blankets, but I got a phone call and a picture a week later and the result was simply beautiful.

We are moving slowly, but we are certainly moving forward. We are hoping to send a shipment of blankets for sale in Australia in mid-March, and start producing large sized blankets and duvet-covers in March as well. The bags and pillow covers are already on their way.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are interested in ordering a baby blanket, large blanket, duvet cover, pillow case, hand bag or any other patch-worked product or if you have ideas for something we might make. We are also looking for experienced sewers interested in volunteering with the women and help with the project. Shipping from Thailand is relatively inexpensive and fast, but send us an email to express your interest and we can send you a more specific quote.

2 Replies to "The Blanket Blog"

  • peggy campbell
    February 20, 2010 (8:04 pm)

    Right now, I’m shopping for a yoga mat bag. I will actually use it to carry my flutes but I noticed that there are MANY yoga stores here in Ottawa and I’m sure they would love to market your women’s sewing. I could buy an inexpensive one and send it to you to use as a pattern. I had one that was made by women in India from an old sari. It was beautiful but my puppy chewed it to bits. Its nice if the cloth is a bit sturdy and also nice if there is an outside pocket. Adjustable strap is also a good idea.

  • Safe House for Orphaned and Abandoned Children « Room to Grow Foundation
    September 14, 2012 (4:56 pm)

    […] about our work with the Safe House, see our information page, or the blog posts rice for SAW, the blanket blog, simple dreams, a wonderful week in Mae Sot and making masks at SAW.  We’ll also be posting […]

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