HOTLINE - week of July 19, 2010

Sewing workshop in Moldova provides jobs for women, Women farmers in Pakistan growing more fresh vegetables, CWS in need of School Kits and Emergency Clean-up Buckets

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Women sewing
Women learning and working in a CWS-supported sewing workshop in Mereni, Moldova.
Photo:  CWS


Some 200 children and elderly people in rural Moldova and neighboring Transnistria, in eastern Europe, received bed linens this past year, thanks to a sewing workshop developed by Church World Service that provides job opportunities for low-income women.  

Natalia, 24, is in charge of bed linen production at the workshop.  She learned sewing technology at a vocational school in Chisinau. She’s been at the workshop for three years.  From her salary, she supports her parents and three younger sisters who are attending secondary school.  

Says Natalia of her return home to Mereni village: “I did not have job opportunities in the village and started to consider going to Italy for work.  Going abroad would mean being without my family and probably not being able to return home for years.  Once the sewing workshop opened, I decided to stay and help my parents,” she adds.  “It was a very difficult time for them and they needed my support.  It was hard for me as I had no money and no job.  The salary I receive now saves my family and provides us hope for the future.”


One hundred women from several villages in the arid Mirpurkhas and Umerkot districts, Sindh province, are part of helping their communities overcome the challenges faced in getting enough water to grow vegetables for village families.  

Potable water has been scarce and drinking water from wells has gradually decreased due to lack of rainfall. Ongoing drought has adversely affected agriculture and livestock raising, the primary means of subsistence for many in the districts.    

Recently, CWS and partner SSEWA-Pak initiated an earth box technology experiment to promote water conservation and efficient use of irrigation water, as well as improve family nutrition by providing enough water to grow a variety of vegetables.   

Earth boxes can be a cost-effective method of addressing water scarcity issues in Sindh. Unlike other techniques such as drip and pitcher irrigation, the earth box is easy and less expensive to construct and maintain. Drip irrigation can cost as much as $1,200 for one acre, but an earth box can be made with local products for about $6.

The earth box includes a plastic container or tub, aeration screen, soil aeration tube made of PVC pipe, water filling tube, mulch cover (plastic sheet), cutter (blade), soil, seeds, and fertilizer.  During training, the women are shown a variety of substitute materials that can be used to construct the earth box.  “I knew that women would get creative and use the ideas once they were shown the technique of making an earth box,” says Mr. Madan, a farming expert with SSEWA-Pak. “This simple, self-watering container is easy to make; it does not require much maintenance and allows for the growth of multiple vegetables.”

The box uses about one liter of water every 15 days and about 1/3 to 1/2 an ounce of fertilizer for an entire planting season. In addition, the earth box is mobile, an added advantage to families who do not own land.

Bagi, a local villager, says, “The earth box will help me because I can provide my family with fresh vegetables.”  Using a bucket and a half-cut Jerry can, Bagi, with the help of her family, constructed two earth boxes in which they planted bitter gourd, squash, and cluster beans.

“I found the earth box easy to make after I attended the training,” says Bagi. “I also find it easy to maintain because much of my time is spent in taking care of my four children.”

The women who are part of the experiment feel that even with nature’s odds against them, the earth box is beneficial and can potentially help improve their nutritional intake and save money while conserving water.

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Kits needed

Overwhelming demand has left Church World Service in need of School Kits and Emergency Clean-up Buckets.  

School Kits are used worldwide to foster education and to replace lost supplies after a disaster.  Emergency Clean-up Buckets are used in domestic emergencies such as tornadoes and floods.  

For information on contents and how to put these Kits together, visit the CWS website at

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Your support for Church World Service work around the world and in the U.S. is urgently needed.


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