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Sew in love

TWO GIRLS’ PILLOWCASE DRESSES show African children ‘that they are important.'

Emily and Lindsay Pace can’t wait for camp.
The sisters, ages 9 and 8, remember the fun they had last summer at Round Lake Christian Camp in rural Oregon. They also remember the challenge their counselors gave them — to use whatever gifts and skills they have to make a difference in their community and the world.
For the past year, that’s exactly what they’ve done — sewing more than 60 dresses from pillowcases for the impoverished children of Africa.
This year, they’ll tell their fellow campers how the experience has changed them.
The girls, who attend the Nile Street Church of Christ in Klamath Falls, Ore., were learning to sew when they got the challenge at camp. Making dresses for girls who couldn’t afford them was an easy choice.
To put it simply, “I like to wear dresses because they make me feel fancy,” Emily Pace said. “I like to wear them all the time.”
With the help of their mother, Kristin, the girls started sewing pillowcase dresses. Kristin Pace contacted church-supported ministries that work in Africa, hoping to find somewhere to send the dresses. The response was greater than expected. The Village of Hope in Ghana, Namwianga Mission in Zambia and The Malawi Project all welcomed the idea.
“Most of the young women in rural areas of Zambia have never owned a new dress,” said K.B. Massingill, president and chairman of the Zambia Mission Fund, which supports Namwianga. Though many organizations focus on the needs for food and shelter among Africa’s poor, “the gift of a dress, especially a new dress, will be a powerful and meaningful way to demonstrate God’s love.”
Dick and Suzi Stephens, coordinators of the Malawi Project, have seen the faces of girls light up when they get new dresses.
“They show them to families and friends with such pride,” Dick Stephens said. “You can just see their feelings of self-value spring to life.”
Upon hearing about the girls’ project, the Sanyu Foundation of Uganda contacted the family and requested dresses. Suddenly, the Pace girls had large orders to fill.
The family dubbed the effort “Sew’n Hope” and began asking for donations of fabric and any help they could get.
Family and friends all across the nation joined in. Volunteers from Texas to Ohio sewed the dresses and sent the family donations to help them make more. Travis Pace, the girls’ 11-year-old brother, organized donations. Their father, Neal Pace, is minister for the Nile Street church. He and members of the congregation agreed to oversee the work.
This summer the girls hope to send 63 dresses to the Village of Hope — and additional shipments of 63 to each of the other ministries throughout the summer and fall.
“When the project started, there were 63 days to June,” their mother explained. “And the girls wanted to make one dress per day.” Each dress takes about three to four hours to make, and the girls are determined to reach their goal.
At first, the girls saw the project as a way to develop a skill and use it to help children who are less fortunate.
Dick Stephens sees their work as something more — a genuine statement of Christian love. For girls in Malawi, “these dresses are much more than a piece of cloth,” he said. “They are a testament that someone, someplace in the world cares about them — that they are important and they have a value.”
In Uganda, “a new dress puts a smile on our little girls’ faces,” said Baker Nnyombi, coordinator of the Sanyu Foundation.
“Most of the children we support are orphans who lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, (and) some due to domestic violence,” Nnyombi said.
The Pace sisters aren’t just sending clothes to those who badly need them, they’re sending “hope, happiness and joy,” he added.
The sisters are learning that through their efforts, “we are giving hope to others,” Emily Pace said.
Her sister put it a bit more simply.
“We are helping people and learning how to sew,” Lindsay Pace said. “Sewing is fun.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION or to contribute, see www.facebook.com/SewnHope or contact [email protected].

  • Feedback
    I am thrilled to learn from this article how 8 and 9 years old sister could do for the Lord.
    God bless them
    With Love
    Lawrence Lamptey
    Afiaman Church of Christ
    Accra, West Africa
    June, 18 2013

    Thank you for this great article! The girls are thrilled. We’ve received several responses and messages of support because of this article.
    Kristin Pace
    Nile Street Church of Christ
    Klamath Falls, OR
    June, 10 2013

    Thanks for the encouraging article! We are now preparing for our 40th camp at Round Lake, and Klamath Falls was the first congregation outside the local area to join us in this ministry.
    Ruel Dean Catlett
    Newport Avenue Church of Christ
    Bend, OR
    United States
    June, 9 2013

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