A girl joined our sewing class last year. She once stitched a piece the wrong way twice in a row. By the second time, she had teared up and was quite discouraged. I felt terrible for her, but I kept encouraging her. I don’t know how things are at home for some of the girls I teach—if they are constantly told off or belittled at the slightest blunder. But many seem to be restrained by an overriding sense of guilt. So, I remind them that mistakes are a part of growth. We can always try again.”
These are the words of Joyce, our sewing trainer at our Vocational Training Program center since January 2022. She was excited when she first heard of the vacant position at VTP. In her words, “I had told the Lord of my dream: I wanted to pass my skills to others who were equally passionate about sewing. So, when I joined the center, I took it as an answer to prayer and a calling from God.”
The sewing program at VTP runs for two years, during which girls learn crocheting, sewing, embroidery, and cross-stitching. At first, Joyce teaches them the basics of sewing by hand. They thread a needle and tie a knot. They learn about fabric—how to cut and iron it. They move on to stitching techniques. And then they use a sewing machine.
Many teens in Bourj Hammoud (suburbs of Beirut) are underprivileged, so the center offers vocational skills to improve their employability and living conditions. Then, they help guide those who show commitment and train them to start their businesses and market their creations on social media. One of the ways they do that is by gifting them a sewing machine after graduation.
But, to Joyce, teaching is not just about skills; she also cherishes the connections she forms with her students. The girls are at an age where they are finding themselves, so she strives to be a good example. If they open up about their struggles, Joyce offers guidance and comfort. If they speak to each other unkindly, she intervenes and shows them another way.
“I thank God for Christa and Fouad [mentoring and discipleship youth workers at VTP], who follow up with the students on a deeper level.” Joyce shared, “I pray a lot for the girls because I know seeds are being planted in this place. I praise God for what He is doing here.”
Like Joyce, we praise God for using us in the lives of these girls. We thank Him because He allows us to see the change in them. Some are already making use of their sewing skills. 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.