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Maple Grove Voice

Maple Grove Rotary Seeks Sewing Supplies to Support Project in Uganda

Aug 22, 2017 09:24PM ● By Wendy Erlien

Maple Grove Rotarian Judy Johnson (photos provided by Judy Johnson)

The Maple Grove Rotary has a long history of supporting projects locally. For the first time, the organization is involved with project in Uganda. Approximately 10 Rotarians from different clubs (including several from Maple Grove) are traveling to Uganda – most with sewing, knitting, and crocheting skills to teach others.

The idea to get involved came earlier this year based on a project in St. Louis Park.

St. Louis Park Sunrise Club sponsored a 'Chicken Dignity' project there in which chicken coops have been built and 100 women have been taken out of prostitution and are taught to be poultry farmers,” Maple Grove Rotarian Judy Johnson said. “In February, Tabitha [Kyambadde] from St. Louis Park Sunrise called me and asked me to make egg aprons. I had no idea what that was - but basically an apron with rows of individual pockets for gathering eggs.  I said I would sew some aprons.”

 For Tabitha’s journey to Uganda, Johnson made three egg aprons and 10 washable feminine hygiene kits.

A few months later, Johnson was attending a Rotary luncheon and talked to Tabitha Kyambadde – who had returned from Uganda just days before. She shared some of the feedback she received while there about the egg aprons (which were well received) and hygiene kits.

“The hygiene kits were very important to the women. A woman come up to her and said, ‘you saved my life!’  She had a baby three months before and was still hemorrhaging and couldn't leave her hut because she didn't have any protection and now she does,” Johnson said. 

Because of the impact of the first visit, Tabitha had decided to setup a sewing center as part of the 'Chicken Dignity' project is located near a large refugee camp where “over half of the population is girls and women...” according to Johnson.

“She asked me whether I had any yarn or fabric I could donate,” Johnson said.

Timing, it seems, was everything.

Johnson’s friend, who is involved with the Minnesota Textile Center, had made 100 aprons for the ‘Chicken Dignity’ project had told her about a way to donate fabric and yarn for the Minnesota Textile Center annual sale. After the luncheon, she had planned on going to the Minneapolis organization to drop off a van full of fabric and yarn she had inherited from her mother.

“I told her [Tabitha] that I had a van full right now and if she asked me later that day it would have been gone,” Johnson said. “That's how it all started.”

Since then, Johnson and the Maple Grove Rotary have been working to start filling a shipping container (which is only one-tenth full) with sewing/knitting/crochet machines, tools, supplies along with gardening tools, carpenter tools, bedding, and bikes.

It is hoped the container can be shipped in October. In December, a group will be training people on how to sew, knit, crochet items so they can earn money to take care of their families. Rotarians from Maple Grove Rotary, along with other Rotary clubs, will be among those traveling.

“The Rotary Club of Maple Grove believes in 'Service Above Self' and is very involved with its local and global community,” Johnson said. Throughout the year, the group impacts the community in multiple ways – from providing support for organizations like CROSS Services, supporting local schools, and more. Internationally, the group has been involved with Students Connecting Through International Service to help a school in Sasabe, Mexico by provide school supplies and a playground as well as other initiatives.   

Individuals interested in donating sewing machines, fabric, thread, needles, knitting needles, crochet hooks, yarn and other notions can contact Judy Johnson before September 17 at or 612-296-6658.

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