Empowering Teenage Girls at VTP Through a Sewing Workshop
The girls handled their sewing machines skillfully. They were piecing and stitching together square fabric patches, turning them into a colorful embroidered pillowcase. The idea was to turn scraps into something meaningful. A team of three ladies from Village Church were busy guiding and supporting the girls.
The ladies had joined our Vocational Training Program center for a two-week project where they taught girls new sewing skills and shared about the joy of Christ. The girls worked on small projects such as tool bags, a notebook pencil pouch, bracelets, and pillowcases. We then helped them sell these items to support their families.
The ladies previously worked with the girls at a school near VTP last year. The girls were beginners right then. The sewing machines were still brand new. This year, the ladies couldn’t help but notice how much the girls’ sewing skills have improved. Rahaf*, 19, is one of the best sewing students. She has been at VTP for a year now. At first, she wasn’t sure about her sewing skills, but Joyce, our sewing trainer at VTP, kept encouraging her upon seeing her incredible potential. She shared:
I didn’t know how to use a needle and thread before. I didn’t expect that I would do so well at it. I love being here because everyone speaks calmly; they aren’t all serious and snappy. I am usually the person to leave a place if I don’t feel comfortable. The teachers are very patient; they repeatedly help us until we make it. The ladies from the US were also very kind; I didn’t want them to leave. They taught us new things about using a sewing machine, and they were always ready to help.
One girl came to Joyce as they finished up their pillowcases. She showed her the pillow front embroidery. “What a beautiful bird!” Joyce exclaimed kindly. Joyce, who has been at VTP since January 2022, is passionate about passing her sewing skills to the girls. “One day, I told the Lord of my dream. I wanted to teach young girls sewing and crocheting,” she shared, “When I heard that they were looking for a sewing teacher at VTP, my eyes sparkled with excitement. I took it as an answer to prayer and a calling from God.”
Joyce also shared how nice it was to have the team from Village Church. She said that there was fun and laughter as they all worked together. And it was so encouraging for the girls to break the routine and have people visit them from abroad. It was also an opportunity for them to meet Christ followers from outside Lebanon.
The team did not only teach the girls new skills. They came with a message: that we could experience the joy of Christ even when times are bad. The girls at VTP go through difficult circumstances. So how can they find joy amid such circumstances?
One of the ladies, Lavonne, shared her story of finding joy amid pain and loss during one devotion. This gave the girls the courage to share about their struggles, too. One girl, Shams*, shared how she had flunked the “Brevet” government exam and had to redo Grade 9: “I lost hope, and everything seemed dark. But the people at VTP encouraged me so much.” Today, Shams attends VTP’s mentoring sessions regularly.
Amar* experienced discrimination at school because she is a refugee. The teacher told her to go back to her country. Lavonne reminded Amar what a strong young woman she was for holding onto her education even when the teachers didn’t want her there.
Amar later shared,
“I love sewing. My mom used to sew, so she taught me a little, and then I watched a few YouTube tutorials. I joined VTP as soon as I heard about it. This is my second year here. I learned so many useful skills, such as using a sewing machine. And I love Miss Joyce. She is gentle and does not yell when I make mistakes.” Randa* also shared, “I feel comfortable here; the people make me happy. I didn’t feel comfortable in other vocational centers. But the love is evident here.”
We praise our Lord for using us in the lives of these girls. We thank Him because He allows us to see the change He is making in them. Some have already begun to work at dressmakers’ shops. Some are already experiencing the power of the gospel. We pray that we are always found faithful to our calling and that God continues to use us with the youth of Burj Hammoud.