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Supporting + Empowering Women with HIV/AIDS

April 18, 2010

Three weeks ago Melbourne’s darling bookshop, Readings, launched a small  range of bags made by HIV-positive women in Arusha, Tanzania. The project, initiated and run by Melbourne law students Jessie Smith and Denis Cairney, is called SEW – ‘Supporting + Empowering Women’.

HIV/AIDS is a major problem in East Africa, and the stigma associated with it makes it close to impossible to find a job once infected. SEW acts as a stepping stone for self-employment – the women learn valuable and transferable business skills which they can use to if they want to go on and develop their own enterprise.

The bags are made from recycled materials sporting lots of interesting Tanzanian graphics (take the muscular Bwana Sukari for example, Mr Sugar, in blue) and – I love this – each one comes with information about the woman who sewed that particular bag; Gladys, say; how many kids she’s got, how many bags she’s sewn…pulling the maker out of anonymity and making each bag unique. The women are paid a fair wage and all profits are re-invested back into the project.

So far the bags are only available at Readings Carlton, on 309 Lygon St, Carlton, Victoria, and sorry, but SEW don’t seem to have a website (yet).

If by crazy chance any of you happen to have the contact details for Jessie Smith and Denis Cairney – would you mind dropping me a line? :)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jessie Smith permalink
    May 18, 2010 3:11 pm

    my ears are burning… :)

    • May 19, 2010 9:36 am

      hey jessie – it’s you! fantastic work! do you wanna give us an update?

  2. margherita Marvasi permalink
    August 13, 2010 6:58 pm

    hello, I really like your work
    I have a shop in Zanzibar and love to sell your bags
    hope you can cotact me
    +255 777 457795
    thanks and regards,

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