Sewing for Living: A Rotary Project That Wraps the World in Yarn and Love

Sewing for Living: A Rotary Project That Wraps the World in Yarn and Love

The Sewing for Living project is sponsored by Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset [RCBUS]. RCBUS teaches local women to use a sewing machine and to crochet. Balinese women have always had multiple jobs: taking care children and family, doing all the housework, providing help to the community, and assisting at temple and cultural events, among other duties.  It is important for women to make their own money, not only for their self-esteem, but to enable each of them to support her entire family. Should her husband die or should she divorce, a Balinese woman could be left bearing social stigmas and no capital resources.  Sewing For Living teaches marketable skills that women can use from their homes.  During the Covid-19 pandemic, many of these women became the sole providers for their families. Each Sewing for Living crafts person is paid a pre-determined amount directly in cash when an item sells.

Right before the pandemic began in 2020, when the project first started, then RCBUS President, Kartika Dewi, had arranged for local businesses to hire Sewing for Living trained women to do piece work from their homes.  Many of the businesses closed due to Covid, and the women were left without markets for their handcrafted items.  The women continued to improve their skills.  Most of the materials they used were donated from Australia and several states in the USA.  RCBUS partnered with Rotary Club Tucson Sunrise in Tucson, Arizona.  They supplied materials and a cash donation to help RCBUS find markets for the items.  One such market sends items made in Ubud, Bali, to Blackmans Bay, Tasmania, Australia; Puerto Peñasco, Mexico; and Tennessee and Wisconsin, USA where they are donated to people in need.

In 2021, Sewing for Living was featured during a district wide Vibrant Club Workshop via Zoom in Bali.  Rotary Club Tucson Sunrise featured the project at their Rotary District’s Conference which took place at the end of September 2021.  Items handcrafted by the Sewing for Living women were sold at that conference.  The partnership with Rotary Club Tucson Sunrise has grown and currently includes Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona.  Together these two organizations supplied Sewing for Living four large boxes which contained over 300 skeins of yarn.  One of our members, formerly from the US, issued a Facebook request, asking her friend to send a skein of yarn to honor her 75th birthday.  She hoped to receive 75 skeins of yarn for the project.  She received over 600 skeins of yarn.  One of our Australian donors placed a large, empty box in her office and asked office mates to fill it with yarn for Sewing for Living.  They did!

RCBUS also partners with Rotary E-Club Cologne which is supplying tradition Christmas Markets in the Cologne area with handcrafted items made by Sewing for Living women. E-Club Cologne has also held a fundraiser via Zoom to help support Sewing for Living. During the 2022 Christmas season, Sewing for Living provided hand beaded Narrenkappe to a Cologne Christmas market. Narrenkappe is a fool’s or dunce’s hat that is worn by Carnival goers in the city of Cologne during Carnival festivities. Sewing for Living Narrenkappe sold out!

Local businesses, including Biku Restaurant in Seminyak and Handara Golf and Resort Bali market Sewing for Living creations in their gift shops. One item that sells well is a hand crocheted orangutan. Half of the proceeds goes to RCBUC’s Long Sam Program which is working to save the endangered orangutan population in East Kalimantan. The other half of the proceeds from the sale of an orangutan goes to the woman who crochets it.

Families in Bali are able to purchase food thanks to the Sewing for Living project which has managed to unite people on four continents in an effort to both empower girls and women and to improve the local economy in Ubud, Bali.