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Several residents of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, learned new sewing skills at a workshop held by a team of Christian Reformed people from the Ottawa, Ontario, area.

Sue Imbrock (left) teaches a Bosnian woman to sew.

Photo by Tomislav Dobutovic

Seven people from Barrhaven Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Ottawa and Bethel CRC in Brockville traveled to Sarajevo in April to share their sewing expertise with Bosnians who have few employable skills, giving them an opportunity to rise out of poverty.

Participants learned to sew handbags, skirts, simple pants, and other practical items. Many arrived well before the lesson times and stayed long after classes ended. Two classes were formed to accommodate the 25 attendees.

After attending the workshop, one young man decided to become a tailor.

Two team members delivered food and personal care items, stayed with people who were dying, and taught teenagers first-aid skills. Working closely with the local mission center, the Ottawa team promoted ongoing programs, including free English classes and Sunday worship.

Andrea Norg, one of those who traveled to Bosnia, said the Bosnians were grateful. They said things like, “You’re so patient” and “You keep coming back!” The Canadians shared warm hugs and smiles that surpassed language barriers, evidence that church can be a nonthreatening place, which was one of the goals of the mission trip.

Norg said it was good to meet people where they are, to help them help themselves. “I want to go back!” she said.

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