International Migrants Day is celebrated annually on 18 December 2019. It is a day not only to raise awareness on the plight of migrants across the globe but also to reflect on the amazing stories of hope and empowerment of this segment of society.
One story of hope and empowerment comes all the way from Down Under. To be exact, a sewing studio in Brisbane is providing training and job opportunities for refugee and migrant women. The Mantua Sewing Studio, promotes sustainable Australian fashion ranging from resources, design and manufacturing services which are ethical and Australian-made by involving migrants and refugees.
The brainchild behind this initiative are three women – Mady Taue, Kim Rollason-Nokes and Leah Andrea. “The idea was born after we witnessed the hardships these women encountered in the Logan City community – we have worked in community services and migrant resettlement sectors for over 20 years,” said Ms Rollason-Nokes.
Despite admitting that recruiting women from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds to be trained as seamstresses was an uphill task, it was quite a rewarding experience – “we wanted to give women a place to come and work but also to connect with the local community, reduce social isolation and build confidence.”
“These are powerful catalysts for change in the community and we wanted to change perceptions of stereotypes and things that are happening in the community beyond fashion and local communities,” she added.
In this regard, the Mantua Sewing Studio serves a dual purpose – offering Australian clothing labels high quality workmanship while creating meaningful and empowering training and employment for migrant and refugee women who have amazing tailoring skills.
Currently engaged by five labels, there are three more labels in the pipeline for the studio which aims to employ up to 50 sewers. That’s not all, the studio even encourages its sewers to design their own label with the skills they have acquired and offers support services to help them pursue their aspirations!
Having launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for a new work space and their first in-house training programme for migrant and refugee women, it sure seems like Mantua Sewing Studio is on the right path to give back to an often marginalised segment of society!
Keep up the good work, Mantua Sewing Studio!
Be it in Malaysia or in any part of the world, migrant workers reside in a country for employment. As citizens of the world, we have a part to play in treating them with dignity. As Maria Chin Abdullah (Member of Parliament, Malaysia) puts it quite succinctly – “To start with, we ourselves, need to begin treating them as we would our house guests; in peaceful and compassionate ways”. (Source: The Sun Daily, 8 May 2019)
*Featured image sourced from Facebook/Mantua Sewing Studio