Inglewood woman Robyn Drake is heading to Nepal aiming to put pants on the poor.
Mrs Drake has established Stitches for Britches, 12 women primarily from Taranaki who will run a sewing workshop in Nepal in March.
The goal is to travel to the Khari Khola village in the Everest region where they will teach the Nepalese women to sew for their families, leaving them with lifelong skills.
By providing the practical skills the programme aims to be sustainable and benefit the whole community over time, Mrs Drake says.
She is delighted that the school principal has agreed to allow female students to join in on the workshops.
The venture is not for the faint-hearted.
The Kiwi women, aged between 50 and mid-70s, will walk for three days through the mountain passes into the remote area.
The gear they will take weighs 160kg and will be carried in by porters and Sherpas.
"We are taking 10 brand new sewing machines, haberdashery, fabric, threads, elastic and needles," she says.
Mrs Drake knows of the deprivation first hand. This will be her ninth trip to the area.
The people survive at subsistence level, she says. And although there had been knitted garments given to the Nepalese to wear on the top half, they were often without enough clothing for the bottom half, she said.
The workshop would therefore concentrate on teaching the women to sew trackpants, a very simple garment to learn to make.
As they became more proficient she was hopeful their skills could then develop into a cottage industry. Mrs Drake has been to Nepal in the past as a support person with Band Aid Box.
And because of her background in textiles - an interior designer for Drakes Furnishing in Inglewood - she was driven to put that to good use and return to help clothe the young children and adults who had so little to wear in such a harsh environment.
"I knew it was a need."
At the weekend Rachel McKean, a professional sewing teacher, was teaching the Taranaki women how to teach the Nepalese women to sew. "We have been pupils for the day.
"We are all being taught to teach women who have never sewed in their life before."
All the women would pay their own way and work as volunteers.
"It's a trip with a purpose."
The sewing workshops will build on Sir Edmund Hillary's challenge to the privileged to help the Sherpas who were the ones who made the Everest summit climb possible.
"They have given us more than we have given them."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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