The community and training centre, New World Foundation (NWF), in Lavender Hill is changing lives and helping locals put food on the table, improve their self-esteem and become independent through a sewing initiative.The programme was started over two years ago thanks to dressmaker Sandra Bartlett. She approached NWF as a volunteer as she wished to share her skills with the community in a quest to empower residents. With Daniela Schlichter, project manager at NWF, and another volunteer, Elisabeth Samuels, they passionately developed the programme. Schlichter says the aim of the initiative is to support community members who want to learn sewing skills in order to be employed as seamstresses. They also want to teach participants to create their own items and sell them to earn an income. The programme has been running since 2016. Participants are thankful for the skills gained and appreciate the way in which the skills are taught. Patricia Belcham, one of the participants, said: “I gained amazing experience and I am proud to say that I can now work on domestic and industrial sewing machines and overlockers. I was able to learn different skills and I am now able to sew items and do clothing repairs among other things. “I am forever grateful for having been able to develop a skill that will sustain me and my family.”Johanna Rhoda, another participant, said: “My teacher Sandra is so good and sweet. She has all the patience you can ask for. She explains over and over if someone doesn’t understand. She doesn’t get cross. I learnt a lot and I want to learn more. The people in my class are very friendly and understanding. We are helping each other.”Schlichter added that apart from training the participants in sewing, each year the NWF initiative carries out a community outreach project. “Last year drainage bags were sewn and donated to breast cancer patients at the cancer association (Cansa) in Mowbray. “A year before that, pillow cases and doorstoppers were sewn and donated to the old age home, Village Care Centre, in Lavender Hill.“No previous experience or skills are necessary to join the training. However, commitment and regular attendance are required of any participant who wants to join the training. Also required is endurance to be part of the training for several months as the training only takes place once a week, on Saturdays from 09:00 to 13:00,” she says. V If you are interested in the training or more information, go to NWF on the corner of Grindal Avenue in Lavender Hill and talk to Daniela Schlichter, or contact her on 021 701 1150. If you have any off-cut material, sewing utensils or other donations you would like to contribute to this initiative, please contact Daniela Schlichter.