For the past year, Sister Janet Kramer has led a campaign in the congregation’s Western Pennsylvania region to collect pop tabs for Sewing Hope, a fashion initiative designed to restore hope and dignity to women and girls in war-torn Uganda who have been the victims of human trafficking. Sister Janet, who is facilitator of the region’s Peace and Justice Committee, was inspired to become involved after hearing Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe speak at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh last year.
As director of St. Monica’s Girls Tailoring Center in Gulu, Uganda, Sister Rosemary has taken in more than 1,400 girls. Her mission is to restore dignity and independence these young women and girls – survivors who were kidnapped from their families and forced to be sex slaves during the tumultuous Ugandan civil war. Because these girls no longer have the support and help from families and communities, the school developed a more comprehensive program that offers nationally accredited courses in tailoring, catering, secretarial studies and computer programming. Sewing Hope provides the materials and distributes handbags, jewelry and clothing made by these young women, giving them jobs, hope and a chance to live meaningful lives with dignity. The goal is to provide the women and children with sustainable, longterm initiatives that will empower them to earn their own living.
Thousands of tabs from sodas and other cans have been collected by sisters in the Pittsburgh region, as well as their families and friends. The first batch was recently sent to Sister Rosemary. “We are pleased to help the young women and girls create beautiful purses that are in demand worldwide.” With the congregation’s recent announcement of our stand against human trafficking, the project is a timely one. “As women religious, we pray for the end of this modern day slavery,” says Janet. “This project is another way in which we can help to contribute to Pope Francis’ goal of wiping out this heinous crime of human trafficking.”