New Project from an Old Friend

New Project from an Old Friend
Patrick & Clemence Tsui (written in September 2020)

In the middle of 2019, we received an invitation from the first director of the Zhaojue Youth Centre. She invited us to start embroidery training for the Yi women at Puge County. Actually we had already made plans for our next stage of life, so even if we agree to help, we can only offer six months of involvement. Nevertheless, this old friend did not give up. She expressed her passion for this work and asked for our consideration. After much prayer, and with peace in our hearts, we accepted her invitation.

This friend works in the government’s tourism department. She hopes to incorporate Clemence’s experience in embroidery training, to promote this kind of training course for Yi women. That way they will be able to produce ethnic hand-crafts, and the Yi culture would be preserved. Selling of embroidery products at tourist sites will improve the livelihood of women. Indeed, we could kill two birds with one stone!

When we first arrived at this small town, there was nothing but three empty training rooms. We spent more than 10 days placing online orders, including equipment like furniture, sewing machines, ironing boards, cutting boards, tools, material, etc. We had to follow up on our purchases which required methodical piece-by-piece checking. With the help of some young local staff, we assembled the furniture and equipment.

It was not until July that we actually started the training, and 12 ladies from nearby villages joined; most of them have not received any sewing skill training at all. As Clemence taught them with great diligence, the ladies picked up the skills in just 6 short weeks. The first session went well and these ladies were able to produce quite a number of quality pieces featuring the Yi heritage. In a little over 2 months, the ladies went from scratch to marketable hand-crafts. The director was very pleased to see the outcome and the first batch of graduates. We held a simple yet significant closing ceremony to celebrate their achievements and each woman received a certificate of completion.

Our plan is to hold three sessions, and during these sessions we hope to train up a local assistant who can continue to train more workers. Our commitment and task will be completed by the middle of December. We hope the Yi embroidery business will continue to grow, and that their cultural heritage can live on through this endeavour.