Advocacy groups that work to protect the rights of immigrants and promote immigration reform in the United States often go about their mission in a number of different ways. One group named Stitch, which is based in Kentucky, aims to connect female refugees with instructors that speak English in order to assist them in learning to sew.
Stitch offers a safe environment in which women can practice their English and learn a new skill, while also gaining a sense of confidence and independence. The program was founded three years ago back in 2011 and more than 50 women have competed it so far, many of whom come from Cuba, Nepal and Somalia and work in groups on various different sewing projects.
Volunteers from immigration groups are on hand in order to guide the women through the craft together, with many of Stitch’s students having been referred by ESL instructors that are already aware of the program. It is an excellent method for women to be able to learn the language in a manner that can be utilized in a real world environment that is nonetheless free of judgment. Many immigrant women in the program wish to sew clothes that remind them of their native countries (such as kaftans or hijabs), giving volunteers the opportunity to learn about different kinds of dress.
The women remain in the program for varying amounts of time depending on their ability to find employment, which may curtail their attendance or if they reach the point where their skill level has outgrown the classroom.