Womens Group Update

We are happy to say that JAA’s women’s group has taken on of a life of its own. Over 25 Sudanese women have attended the program this year, with a group of 15 regulars who join in each week. While this program is a buzz with excitement, loud conversation, laughter and the whirring of numerous sewing machines, it is also a safe place for these women to come to each week, to practice English, to relax, catch up with old and new friends and ask for, and receive help, when needed. This group runs twice weekly for female refugees from Darfur and the Nuba Mountains (in Sudan).

In a program rich in culture, women come from Sudan and Australia, UK and Sri Lanka, and women are Muslim and Jewish. It is run in a church that holds services for Fijian and Congo communities with a Minister from Indonesia. The group meets in Dandenong, far from Caulfield and further from Sudan, yet all the women are just like everyone else, they are wives, mothers, sisters and daughters.

The program is aimed at assisting the women with learning new skills such as sewing and other arts and crafts; building confidence and improving English literacy through reading, writing and conversation. Guest speakers regularly visit the program to share their knowledge, skills and resources with the members of this group and to date we have been lucky enough to have had first aid training, advice in nutrition, dental care and women’s health, fashion designers, bollywood dancing and zumba.

JAA’s Coordinator, Lesley Black, along with Pauline Bates, our Sewing Teacher and Tayomi Maluddeniya, our Child Care Worker, set up the space before each session, complete with rocking horse and puppet shows for the children and embroidery, patchwork and sewing for the women. The women’s group is now looking towards its first craft market in December to sell the women’s handmade cushions, bags and other masterpieces.

Many of the women in the group have recently had new babies. Generosity from the Jewish community has ensured families that have needed help have been given prams, cots, clothes and toys. One mum couldn’t take her baby out because she didn’t have a pram, and had one dropped off within 24 hours, thanks to JAA’s networks and amazing volunteers. Further, every new mum and baby has received a beautiful gift bag of hand knitted clothes, toys and blankets thanks to KOGO.

This program is generously supported by The Besen Family Foundation, The Spotlight Charitable Foundation, and Mission Australia.