India (MNN) – This Mother’s Day, you can honor your mother all while recognizing and supporting the role of motherhood among families living in poverty.
Every year, Donna Glass of India Partners gives a gift in memory of her mother and grandmother to a woman in need. And because this tradition has been so meaningful to her, she’s inviting you to join her.
What’s this gift, you ask? A sewing machine.
You see, India Partners provides tailoring training to women whose families are struggling to make it financially. In these situations, it’s common for the main breadwinner to work as a day laborer. This unreliable and poor-paying employment can leave a family on shaky ground. In addition, the women in these families are usually unable to have an income– they haven’t had the opportunity to finish their education. But the classes offered at the tailoring schools give the women a viable career option to help support the income of their family.
It’s all part of India Partners’ desire to see an India rich in hope, justice, and compassion.
Glass says, “Currently we have seven schools operational in various villages in India, working with our partners there.”
Several of the women who’ve gone through this program are illiterate, so India Partners makes sure to give them some basic business training so they can effectively run their business.
Each class has 12 women, meaning at any given moment there are 84 women going through the six-month tailoring training. Yesterday, 24 of these women graduated, and the next classes have already started. Glass says the rest of the five schools will be graduating next month– just in time for school to start for their children.
“They’re going to be able to help make it so that their children can go to school and have the supplies that they need for their classes.”
The gift of being able to provide for their family, feed their children and even send them to school is a huge relief to these mothers.
“Some of the women… who graduated last December, they’re looking forward to being able to earn 150 rupees a day—it’s a little less than two and a half dollars—and how that will make a difference in their family finances. And, it’s really amazing to think that less than two dollars and 50 cents can give them such hope. But it does make a difference,” Glass says.
She continues, “It’s just so great to be able to offer these classes because not only do they get this training but when they graduate, they get the gift of a treadle sewing machine.”
These sewing machines, which give the women the ability to earn money each day, cost about $100. And while that’s not much of a business investment for some people, it would be nearly impossible for them to purchase the machine out of their own wages, especially if they’re not able to start their business without it.
Mothers around the world
The theme of women helping to provide for their families in difficult circumstances hits home for Glass. She says, “My grandmother was a tailor. And she lived back in the Midwest, back in North Dakota. And she was born in 1900, so she came up through the Depression as an adult.”
Her grandparents had four children they had to support during this time. It was common for families to leave home during the Great Depression in search of a more viable life situation. However, Glass’ grandparents didn’t have to do that. And it was largely because of the sewing skills her grandmother had.
“Being able to do tailoring—to go into a shop in town and do men’s tailoring and making other women’s clothes and stuff was… one of the things that helped make sure that my grandparents and my aunts and uncles and my mom did not become homeless.”
Her grandmother passed the tailoring skills on to Glass’ mother who passed it on to Glass herself.
“To be able to honor her by making it possible for a woman in India to not have to move, to … be able to help support, stand by her husband or her father, and help support the family—I think to honor my grandmother by gifting a sewing machine in her memory is—it means a lot to me.”
Over the years, Glass has gifted the sewing machine in honor of her mother, as well. But this simple gift of a sewing machine is also a symbol of honoring mothers and motherhood, everywhere.
“I think it honors them in recognizing that they are an integral part of the family, and helping to build up by going through training and then having a sewing machine and that whole sense of being able to help with the family income and not feel like… everything is dependent on their husband or their father—I think it helps to build up people’s sense of self-worth. And mothers especially, they want the best for their children and they want to be able to help to make a difference in the lives of their families. I think for any mother that that’s a really powerful thing.”
So, are you still looking for a way to honor your mother this year? Consider giving a sewing machine in her name. Learn more about that, here.
(Header photo courtesy of Rex Harsin with permission from India Partners)