ELLINWOOD — Star of Hope in Ellinwood serves many needs in Haiti as well as other third world countries, but one recent project that has transformed hearts and lives is nearing completion.
After the earthquake of 2010, when things calmed down, the Haitians began to ask themselves what they could do to help themselves.
One Haitian woman had learned to sew during a French Institute on sewing held in Haiti, where she studied for three years.
Putting two and two together, Star of Hope saw an opportunity to teach marketable skills. The mission of Star of Hope is to work with the poorest of the poor.
Seventeen treadle sewing machines were shipped to Haiti. They all have the ability to be converted to electrical machines for when the country has power available.
But for now, the women get a workout when they sew using the treadle. A treadle sewing machine is powered by a back and forth motion by the feet on a platform called a treadle.
Women from around the Ellinwood emptied closets of unused fabric, which was sent to Haiti by SOH.
In addition, “they do not have notions,” said Linda Borror, communications for SOH. Notions are things like thread, needles and pins. They are still accepting donations of these items and fabric.
“We collect it here,” she said. “We pack it.”
The sewing classes begin with each student learning to sew by hand. After they have mastered that, they then get to learn on the sewing machine.
The sewing machines are stored in central places such as the school to prevent the families from being robbed. “We don’t want people to think the women are wealthier than those around them,” said Barry.
The sewing machines were specifically made for the conversion from mechanical to electrical. They also disassemble.
Some of the women have gotten jobs such as making school uniforms. “It has given them a profession,” Linda said.
Barry Borror, director of U.S. Star of Hope is currently searching for a special sewing business for the women that could be shipped for sale in the U.S.
For the first class, forty-two women showed up for the class with 35 spots.
Not only did the women learn a skill, they learned pride in themselves. “Their heads hung down when they started,” said Linda. The class met for eight months for one day a week, and a transformation occurred in how the women thought about themselves.
At the end of the session, the group did a fashion show.
“The women took the stage (in their new outfits,) said Linda. “There was an amazing transformation of personality and spirit. You could see the transformation.”
The students made four shirts and mastered five different collars. Twenty-three women graduated.
SOH has had three classes in three locations and now plan to start sending students out as teachers.
“We want the children to grow to be Godly men and women,” said Barry. “We do that primarily through education.”
Star of Hope has projects in 16 countries and benefits 25,000 children. It started 40 years ago in 1969 in Brazil. Star of Hope has been in the U.S. since 1987.