More than a decade ago Mani-ratnam’s broken sewing machine in her sparsely furnished one room house sparked the conversation. She knew what to make, how to make it, where to sell it, how much profit she could expect… in fact everything needed for a small business. Except for one vital ingredient - 5,000 Rupees to fix the sewing machine and buy the cloth, thread and other supplies to get going.
We loaned her the money, repayable over one year. And it worked so well that we have repeated the exercise dozens of times in the intervening years, making a difference to the lives of individuals and their family.
Mani-ratnam’s family have had their ups and downs over the years but we have stood with her throughout, and she has stood with us in our work too. She now teaches local women in the “stitching centre” – a sewing school giving three months of intensive coaching in various needlecraft skills. Some of the students may take a loan afterwards to set up their own business, recycling the same money that Mani-ratnam repaid years ago. All of them receive a skill that will benefit them and their families for a lifetime. And even more importantly all of them are welcomed and loved regardless of their position in society or their faith background. That’s what we are here for.