Testimonial – Rita Milligan & Mary Leah de Zwart

In April of 2015, Rita Milligan from Bon Accord, Alberta and Mary Leah de Zwart, from Vernon, BC (sisters-in-law) volunteered to lead a four-day sewing workshop at Yurac Yacu.  This was their second visit to Yurac Yacu, staying at the Lazy Dog Inn.  A $3000 grant from the Canadian Home Economics Foundation helped to enable the building of a crafts room/kiosk and the purchase of sewing machines.  Following are their observations about their stay:

Mary Leah:  First I’d like to acknowledge the great motivation and perseverance of the women and youth of Yurac Yacu, who came to the workshops despite the heavy workloads they have in their daily lives.  I found that they had a great desire to learn and that they were very quick to do so. In the four days, many participants learned how to use sewing machines for the first time; how to make patterns; measure fabric; and custom-fit liners into hats they had previously made with the knitting group.  They also learned about North American and European sizing to enable them to make products for a wider market.  It was a very intense and rewarding four days, and a number of local people showed leadership in helping others – I think that will be the key to achieving and maintaining quality standards of products. I also appreciated everyone’s great sense of humor and patience.

Rita:  I’d also like to acknowledge the work of Diana and Wayne in setting up and keeping this project going.  They are very dedicated people who are making a big difference in the Yurac Yacu Community.  It was great getting to know everyone, from the six-month olds to the sixty-year olds.  It was a great community effort, with everybody helping each other, holding babies so young mothers could sit down and sew, the Lazy Dog Inn providing lunch, and especially the language support from Elina and also the sewing help from Carmen and Herlinda.  The women made aprons with custom-designed pockets – I remember one person making her pocket the right size for a piece of bread and her chicles (chewing gum)! The young sewers from ages 8 to 16 made mochillas (back packs) and hand puppets, and we also spent some time tracing our large North American feet and hands as guides for future sizing.  There is a lot of energy and excitement in the Yurac Yacu community about this and other potential income-generating projects.

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