Supporting Makers Around the World!

Hi, friends!  This is a little bit different kind of post, but I hope you’ll indulge me and allow me to share a little more about a group that I feel really passionate about.  Like many of you, sewing is one of my great passions, and it’s brought me lots of connections with other seamsters and fiber artists across the world.  So, when I learned about this special group of handmakers halfway across the world, I just had to share about it!

Free-hand drawing the cross-hatch pattern onto the material with wax

My dear friend Lori has lived in Uganda for the last four years, working for Fount of Mercy.  Uganda is home to nearly 2.5 million orphans, victims of civil war and AIDS.  Fount of Mercy exists to support the grassroots community organizations that have sprung up to care for these orphans.  In their words, “Fount of Mercy’s mission is to build indigenous African organizations’ capacity to provide educational and vocational opportunities for the orphans, vulnerable children and caregivers in their communities.”  It is Fount’s goal to work behind the scenes building upon the vision, foundation and capacity of local indigenous organizations by providing technical support, resource mobilization, and grant making.

Using a template to create ziggyzaggy chevrons of fun!

One of the most amazing things about the Ugandan community that Lori lives in is the way that people have opened up their homes to orphans– nieces, nephews, neighbors, and other children in need.  But since un- and under-employment is really high in Uganda, it can be really hard to make enough to provide for these large families.  Vocational training is a frequent request from these grassroots organizations, so Fount partnered with NYC fashion types to develop courses in, among other things, sewing and tailoring.  But their brand-new project is making and selling hand-batiked scarves!

Mixing the dye!

At this time, Fount has a team of 12 artisans who are working full-time crafting these scarves– that means that scarf sales are supporting 12 families!

Tending the dye bath

I’ve eagerly watched Fount of Mercy develop from an idea into a thriving non-profit, but I feel particularly connected to this small group of artisans.  I sew for fun and community, but am not struggling to support my family with my handiwork.  It means so much to me that I can support handmakers across the world, and by extension, orphans, through an organization that my sweet friend has worked for since its genesis. (I’m also excited to get some of my Christmas shopping done way early… heeheehee…)  So, if this excites you, too, you should check out Fount of Mercy’s website, and if you’d like to buy a scarf, head on over to their shop (and be sure to name “Fount of Mercy” as the affiliate if you decide to make a purchase).  If you’re the social media type, you can follow Fount of Mercy’s Sewing Hope Facebook page to keep up with their stitchin’-related news.

Hemming the scarves

ALSO— for those of you in the NYC area, another cool thing you can do to support handmakers across the globe is to stop by the Be. The. Voice pop-up shop at Vocedi, 43-45 Grand St. in SoHo.  The shop is filled with garments and jewelry made by women who were former victims of sex or labor trafficking, but who have new vocations as artisans.  My friend Maggie is organizing and staffing this event.  She’s a fellow evening student at FIT and has a real passion for ethically-produced fashion.  I can’t wait to check out the shop!  It will be open Mon-Sat 11A-7P from October 7th- 29th.  You can read more about it here

Ta-da! Finished!

56 responses

  1. Oh! Thank you for this post, what a terrific cause. The scarves are just beautiful, and YES perfect for Xmas gifts! I loved seeing the pictures of the works-in-progress. Good for your friend Lori for being involved with such a worthwhile endeavor. 🙂


    • I’m so glad you like the scarves! I went a little overboard and ordered six of them– so many gifts already taken care of! 🙂 Lori may be the sweetest person I’ve ever met– she’s incredibly kind, compassionate, and amazing.


  2. Great post, Ginger! Thank you so much for sharing it! I really love bright colours and chevrons, so I will definitely be looking at the website to see what I can buy for friends (and then keep because I can’t bear to give it away…!). I love the process photos too especially the dye bath mix – great colours swirling around there! 🙂


  3. this is brilliant – I’ll definitely check it out. I grew up in Kenya and spent a lot of time in Uganda as a child – so I’m thrilled to find out about it and support it!


  4. A wonderful cause. Thanks for sharing! These scarves are beautiful and I’m going to purchase. Great feeling to buy something and know you are helping to support a family and not just making someone’s pockets fat. 🙂


  5. Ginger, this is a great post. Before I became a boring lawyer, and before working in the entertainment industry (so, like a million lifetimes ago) I worked for a small NGO and for about five years lived and worked in rural Central and South America. Skill building initiatives like these ones are so important for community building, not only because they generate much needed income and empower people to achieve self-sufficiency, but also because they bring communities together big time. Thanks so much for showcasing this organization. I’m off to their website to do a bit of early x-mas shopping!


    • Wow, you’ve had such an interesting career path! I’d love to hear more about it some time! I’m glad to hear that this is a good model! I know that when they were starting out, their research suggested that female employment in particular would really help to lessen the poverty in the community.


  6. One of my favorite things about sewing is how it inspires us all to think about not only where our clothes come from, but fabric too, who works on them . . . and inspires us to make the world a better place with our choices. Thanks for sharing this!


    • I agree with this completely! I didn’t go into it in the post as it was already getting really long, but Fount of Mercy has in the past done fashion shows here in NYC with garments made by Ugandan seamstresses, the idea being that creativity shouldn’t be enjoyed only by the first world. It’s one thing to sew as a means to express yourself and quite another when you’re doing it to scrape together an income. I love that they’re finding ways to combine creativity with income generation (and they’re able to pay a rate that’s 5x the Ugandan minimum wage, which is awesome!).


  7. Lovely post – and great to hear about these new initiatives in a part of the world that so badly needs it. At time when Africa is about to vote on removing itself from the International Criminal Court, thereby clearing the way for rape, killing and other crimes against humanity, it’s nice to have something positive to hold on to.


  8. Wow amazing! Thanks for sharing ginger makes. The little precious things sometimes taken for granted makes a huge difference to someone’s life out there! Truly an inspiring project and a worthy cause! I appreciate and encourage positive projects, and will definitely show my support. I’m off to check up more about it the project.
    Let’s follow each other 🙂


    • That is so true– making a living that supports my family and having time to be creative are things that I take for granted, but they’re not guaranteed and they’re not even the norm in many parts of the world.


    • I’m so glad you like them! They’re really lovely in person! Another plus is that I’ve never been ahead of the curve when it comes to Christmas shopping before– I feel SO organized and prepared! 🙂


    • My friend is so amazing, and I’m so proud of her for all that she does! The scarves are really beautiful. Mine arrived last week, and now I’m thinking I need to order a few more of them for the ladies in my life! 🙂


  9. I just finished reading and I feel a little weepy. Thank you so much for this! I am so grateful for this scarf making crew – they continue to amaze and bless me. I wish everyone could meet them! It is such a thrill to see people wanting to support them through this.


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