Sewing Change! Chestertown Rotary Club Gives Sewing Machines to Zambian Women


Past Rotary Club president Paul Heckles, Rotarian Melissa Stuebing and Club President Andy Meehan

The Chestertown Rotary Club has received a district grant from the Rotary International Foundation for the work that local nonprofit CoLaborers International assists in Zambia, Central Africa at Chisomo Centers.  Chisomo Centers works with street youth and children – providing education, counseling and basic care at a day center and family reintegration and boarding school education at an overnight shelter.  Prevention efforts include teaching small business skills to mothers so families can support children adequately. 187 children and youth are currently supported by 60 women in this program.

Melissa Stuebing of CoLaborers International has been involved in the Chestertown Rotary club for several years. In the past, the club has supported scholarships for placing Zambian children in schools as well as education initiatives.

When CoLaborers started selling jewelry products made by the Zambian women in the economic empowerment program locally at Twigs and Teacups, Rotarians Paul Heckles and Andy Meehan thought about more ways to get involved to build on the capacity of what the women were already doing.


Josephine Chilunjika of Chisomo Centers who directs the women’s economic programs.

After seeing the beautiful dyed cloths made by the Zambian women, the Chestertown Rotary Club wrote a grant request for sewing machines and through the grant and club donations were able to purchase 10 sewing machines.  Sewing machines enable to the women to economically support themselves in a sustainable way.

CoLaborers International arranged for local seamstress Tori Neales to do a sewing workshop this fall in Zambia to teach women how to use the sewing machines as well as make various patterns and products. Bob, Tori’s husband, will meanwhile work with older street boys to teach carpentry skills on a separate CoLaborers project.

Through generous local donors, CoLaborers was also able to purchase an additional 4 sewing machines.

Twigs and Teacups will also be doing a First Friday event featuring the Zambian women’s jewelry and products October 7th  at 5pm.

We are asking for donations of thread, pins, needles, bobbins, pillow core, scissors and sewing supplies to send over for the training by October 10th. Please contact for more information.

Chestertown Rotary meetings are held Tuesdays at noon at the Fish Whistle Restaurant.

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