Volunteers to teach sewing to women in Nepal
The sewing machines and hiking boots are packed and ready for 11 women to take on the opportunity of a lifetime in Nepal.
Taranaki's Robin Drake established the group Stitches for Britches who will head to Khari Khola village in the Everest region next month to teach a sewing workshop.
The workshop will aim to upskill women with practical skills which will give them independence and benefit the community in the long term.
The hands-on learning will include female high school pupils in order to pass on the knowledge to the next generation, Mrs Drake said.
The group gathered in Inglewood to pack up the sewing machines and gear so Mrs Drake could calculate the weight for the porters and Sherpas who will be carrying 40kg each of the 200kg load.
The sewing machines were secured in crates custom-made by Mrs Drake's husband Graham.
"They have to be bulletproof and invincible to be carried on foot half way up the Himalayas."
The gear was being packed into unused urea bags which would be transferred to the Sherpas' traditional doka baskets.
As well as the 10 sewing machines, haberdashery, fabric, threads, elastic and needles, there were gift bags for the women for when they ‘graduate' and complete a garment.
The volunteers, between the ages of 50 and 72, were paying their own way and would be accompanied by an interpreter.
After the week-long workshop the women were spending a couple of days trekking to Namche Bazaar, the gateway to Everest, which is about 3500m above sea level.
Volunteer Shona Jager said she was drawn to the idea of contributing as a volunteer and passing on skills as well as a personal challenge.
"It's an opportunity of a lifetime and to do it as a volunteer, it's like you're giving back to the country as well as receiving."
She said the group had been training on Mt Taranaki every weekend since October.
"Our alpine fitness has improved hugely."
Mrs Jager said she was pretty confident all of the group will be pushed out of their comfort zones.
Taranaki Daily News