the women of APAD

Saturday morning, my friend Catherine and I got dressed in our finest local garb and headed out to meet some of the women of APAD – Association pour la promotion de l’autonomie et le droit pour les jeunes filles et les femmes.

Some of the ladies at APAD

This small community organization works with young girls and women in various quartiers providing various levels of support. They offer literacy classes for those girls whose education was stopped short because of their parent’s choice, early marriage or the like. They lead causeries éducatives (sharing circle-type workshops) on various subjects from health to women’s rights. They hold sewing classes so that the women can learn to make clothing for themselves and their children as well as for income generation.

We connected with this group through Danedjo, Catherine’s co-worker at her partner organization, and her friend Maraimou. They are both members of APAD and lead some of their activities. They invited us to come meet their group and we were very keen to do so.

APAD’s office is quite simply a large room with a half dozen treadle sewing machines, a large black board and a bookcase with a few tattered publications. But it is the spirit and the warmth of the women that make it a nice place to be. Though our first visit was more introductory, we could already tell we’ll enjoy making repeated visits to APAD.

For instance, Wednesdays are sewing days, and, well, I’m all over that! I had brought a couple of my hand-sewn quilting blocks to show – solidarity amongst lovers of sewing! They seemed impressed and curious, likely the hand-sewing part is a little weird to them. So it gives me just the right incentive to finish the small wall-hanging I was working on so they can see what a finished quilt looks like. If I can stop being mesmerized by the sight and sound of their work on the treadles, I may be able to focus long enough to give some quilting instructions should they desire.

Also, they have agreed to save the little scraps of fabric that end up scattered on the floor for quilting pieces. These are very small scraps, barely large enough for a little square or triangle, but to me, they are already the beginning of a beautiful reminder of my experiences here! Mind you, it will also be a great way for me to contribute a little extra to APAD’s coffers for the upkeep of the sewing machines and other costs (i.e. not a hand out but a fair trade). Though admittedly we’ll both feel like we’ll be getting the better end of the deal!!! Perspectives, perspectives!

I’m looking forward to spending time with these ladies.. Eventually, with practice, we can communicate in Fulfulde. But in the meantime we’ll share a common language: thread, needle, fabric, smiles and companionship.

~ by Caroline Spira on December 15, 2009.

One Response to “the women of APAD”

  1. Awesome experiences ! There’s nothing like the universal kindred spirit of women connecting with women .

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