Sewing School Testimonies

Anita’s mother died when she was young, and her alcoholic father neglected her and her 5 siblings. At the age of 13 she resorted to prostitution to buy food and soap. After several years of that desperation being her way of life, she ended up pregnant and had a baby girl. Eventually, a pastor’s wife found her and taught her the error of her ways. She left her life on the streets, but had no education or skills to help her get a job and earn a more dignified living. The pastor’s wife heard about the Restoring Hope sewing school and recommended Anita attend. She was thrilled to have the opportunity to learn a trade and support herself and her little girl. The learning process came a little slower–she struggled to even hold the scissors at first–but she eventually developed the skills and the eye for detail.


When Estrela’s husband died in 2006, her son Cristova supported her. But when he also passed away in 2016, she was left destitute and caring for his widow and small daughter. Neither of them could find any work, so they took turns selling bananas on the roadside, making mere pennies per day. They would often have to go without food, and their leaky mud house was cracking and in danger of collapsing in a strong storm. She also had many health problems, and lost all hope of her life ever improving. Then she was invited to participate in the Restoring Hope sewing school, and she was thrilled to learn a new skill. She would walk for hours to get to class every week, and she learned very quickly. Her skills, patience, and humility made her a perfect match for the school, so we hired her as a teacher’s assistant to help other women in similar situations. She is so full of joy since she never has to worry about where her next meal will come from, and she’s saving up to build a new house for her little family.

Luisa never had any children of her own, but after her husband passed away she adopted a little orphan girl named Maria. She lived in the humblest of mud shacks, with a scrap metal roof that leaked and flooded with every rain. Life was hard; she couldn’t afford to send Maria to school so instead she sent her to the market to scavenge for vegetables that had fallen in the mud that the vendors didn’t want anymore. That was all they had to eat. After she started sewing with Restoring Hope, her life radically changed. She is almost done building a new, secure house to keep them out of the rain, she has her own sewing machine and her work can buy their food, and her heart is full of joy.

When Maria was telling me her life story, the word “suddenly” came up a lot. When she was 10 years old, she suddenly lost the use of her legs (I’m guessing she had polio based on her description). Through years of therapy she regained the ability to walk with a cane, but she is still crippled and slow. When she was 12 she suddenly lost both of her parents. A few years later she agreed to marry a man, explaining that it was the only way she’d be guaranteed food every day. She had a baby boy, and just as he was learning to crawl her husband suddenly died in his sleep one night. She was left destitute, with no way to make a living or care for her baby boy. But then one day, she was invited to participate in the first term of the sewing school that didn’t even have a name yet. She learned quickly, enjoyed having a reliable source of income, saved up enough money to buy her own machine, and now completely supports herself with her work. The transformation in her life is inspiring!