Breaking into freedom

written by OM International

“We decided to teach the women to make a butterfly," said Laura Rawson (United Kingdom), who led a two-day sewing workshop for young and single mothers. She explained, "When a caterpillar changes into a butterfly, in the cocoon, it has to struggle to break free. As it struggles, it gets blood to its wings and pounding on the edges of the cocoon is what gives the wings strength. By the butterfly breaking open its cocoon, that is how it can then fly. If you broke open the cocoon for the butterfly, it would never get the blood to its wings, and it would never actually be able to fly.”

Laura felt there was a poignant comparison between the butterfly and the women's situation. “Their life is a struggle, but good can come from that,” she said. Laura and a team of volunteers from Logos Hope taught over a dozen women to sew, in order to give them an opportunity to learn a skill which has the potential to help them earn a living.

Most were single mothers between the ages of 14 and 21, and came from a deprived area of Panama where gang violence is rife. One woman, Leylis, travelled a long distance to attend the workshop and showed great motivation to seize the opportunity. She was the first woman to arrive, eager to begin learning to use the sewing machine.

A group of indigenous women attended and explained to the crewmembers that, in their culture, it is the decision of the parents when a daughter is born whether or not the girl will receive an education. If not, a ring is pierced through the bridge of their nose so their status will be visibly defined. The sewing workshop was therefore a precious opportunity for them, as the women each had the ring in their nose.

“It was gratifying to see these women’s enthusiasm and joy while working on these manual projects and with the machines," shared Karla Aguirre (Mexico). "There was a woman who had always wanted to be able to sew her own bag; she was very emotional and moved, and thanked us in her mother tongue. The idea was to teach them easy projects they could adapt to their culture and even sell as handicraft,” Karla explained.

As they worked together, the crewmembers heard about the women's individual situations and could show compassion and offer encouragement to them. At the close of the workshop, Logos Hope's help projects team donated two sewing machines to the group living locally and blessed Leylis with one additional sewing machine, so she could take it home for her personal use.