A Skill for a Better Life

For the last three years, a Massachusetts woman has been teaching Haitian women how to embroider, helping villagers develop a money-earning skill so they can afford to send their children to school and pay for basic necessities. “This would give them a little independence from their spouse and, most importantly, invite them to feel good about themselves,” Patricia L. Monroe tells news site MassLive.com.

Monroe has been sewing since she was 6 years old, and learned to embroider in 1974, taught by her husband’s grandmother. When her children were young, Monroe had a cottage sewing industry, making and embroidering dresses for a local Irish step-dancing school.

Every February, Monroe and a group of teenagers travel to the village of Desab as part of The Haiti Plunge, a cross-cultural educational initiative that has been sending mission teams to the country for nearly three decades. Prior to the trip, the teens themselves learn to embroider so they can teach new stitches to the Haitian women. The Haitian women’s completed work is sold in Catholic parishes in Massachusetts.