Project Near and Dear to My Heart.

I have been volunteering little bits of time with a ministry I have come to adore here in the Dominican Republic called The Cercadillo Project. My friend Ina (who has the coolest name ever, if you ask me) moved here 3 years ago to devote herself to a small village outside of the capital. Cercadillo has no running water, no electricity, no schools, and really no self-sustaining jobs for the people who live there. In the short amount of time Ina has been there she has been able to coordinate a group to put in a city well and start a program where kids can go to school in the neighboring community. If you want to read more about what Ina does click here.
The project that has captured my heart is her sewing and handcraft ministry she has started with the women. All of the men leave the village in the morning to find work leaving the women behind. Some of the women buy meat scraps from a butcher, carry them in a tub on their heads and sell them to whoever they can find keeping the profits they earn, which as you can imagine is not much. Ina had a dream to start some kind of co-op where the women could sell things they make and have some sustainable income. SO, every Friday morning she and a few volunteers set up at her outdoor community center with donated sewing machines and a generator and they teach the women how to sew and make handcrafts. They have been crocheting necklaces lately that they have been selling to volunteer teams as souvenirs. When one woman in the project received $100 pesos (the equivalent of $3.50) for necklaces that sold she started crying saying she didn't know how she was going to feed her family that night and that day she would be able to. This ministry is changing lives and helping people meet critical needs.
I have developed two patterns for a very simple bucket style bag that can either be made long and worn over the chest or shorter to be worn over the shoulder. Soon the women will be able to sew these bags with donated fabric and make ever more money to take care of their families.
As I was testing out the pattern I made several for two friends who work with other ministries headed back to the United States for the summer months. They eagerly agreed to donate the money they would have used to buy the bags from the women to the ministry instead of paying me for making them. So, 21 bags later I think I have the major kinks worked out of the pattern and I've been able to help out both the women in The Cercadillo Project and my other friends. I never in a million years thought that the sewing skills my grandmothers taught me could be used to give back to others and the Lord.
It's an exciting thing and I hope you take a look at Ina's website to see the short video about Cercadillo.

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