Make your home page

Afghan women find support in sewing circle at Exodus Refugee Immigration

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Twenty donated sewing machines is helping change the fabric of more than a dozen Afghan women’s lives.

Imani Aid’s delivered them to Exodus Refugee’s sewing Art Circle group as an additional tool to help families build self-sufficiency.

The Art Circle kicked off around the beginning of the month, and fabric with bright colors and patterns is trendy. Many participants were avid sours back home in Afghanistan. So, the circle not only gives them an opportunity allows them to practice their passion but be around others who know what they’ve gone through.

It’s been nearly two years since the Taliban took back control in Afghanistan. Despite having been in the U.S. for more than a year, the women in the sewing circle still would rather have a bit of privacy. But their work, they are ok showing that.

“So many of them sewing was a really important part of their lives. It was something they could do, and it reminds them of the life they used to have,” said the Director of Development at Exodus Refugee Cassandra Sanborn.

Sanborn says this one grew out of the mental health program. Helping form sewing skills but also stitching together a community.

“The sewing circle, not only brings people together for that social community, but it can teach people really practical skill,” she said.

Many families who’ve resettled in Indiana are still adapting, searching for jobs that will allow them to be self-sufficient.

Sandborn says clients in previous sewing circles have gone on to sew for larger companies and alteration shops. The hope is the same for the 15 women participating in this group.

“This is also something that women can make money with themselves. So, it can teach you how to sew something that you could sell in the community on your own. And kind of start your own small business,” she said.

Knowing the success stories from previous sewing groups. Volunteers reached out to another non-profit, Imani aid. They came through with 20 new machines to help jump-start their journeys.

“These women can take their machines home. So not only are they coming to Exodus and learning how to sew here, but they are able to go back home and practice the skills that they’re learning,” Sanborn said.