the women

How we Started and Progress

The LifeStitches Project began in 2005 when the project director, Dr. Katherine Gnauck, was in Arua Uganda and met the mothers in the Arua PMTCT Peer Support group.

Two things happened which gave birth to the sewing workshop idea…first Arua has a wonderful local fabric market with beautiful cotton fabrics coming in for Congo, Tanzania, Nigeria and other parts of Africa; second the Arua Regional Hospital made a donation of an electric sewing machine to the mothers. Only a couple of the mothers knew how to sew.

The idea evolved that the mothers could make napkins and table products with the fabric and sell them in the United States. The mothers asked for help developing a sewing workshop, where they could learn to sew, make napkins and become skilled as seamstresses to branch out and make clothes as a local business.

LifeStitches Year One
After Dr. Gnauck returned to Albuquerque, the Life Stitches Project began to grow. Initially a sewing workshop from a simple renovation of an old garage building on the Arua Regional hospital grounds was proposed. This evolved into a new workshop building constructed on land donated by the Arua Regional Referral Hospital. Fundraising began in the fall of 2007 and the building construction began summer 2008. From the beginning, we knew there were not enough funds to complete the building but we wanted to get going. By fall, 2008 with funds exhausted, construction stopped with 2/3 completion.

Workshop Construction  Workshop Construction 2  Workshop Construction 3

LifeStitches Years 2008 - 2010
Dr. Gnauck traveled to Arua in fall 2008 to open the sewing workshop in borrowed hospital laundry space. A train-the-trainer 3-week program was completed, and since, the mothers have been producing two high-quality napkin styles. The napkins are currently being sold in private home sales in the U.S., two Banana Boat store locations in the capital city Kampala and a safari lodge near Lake Mburo National Park.

LifeStitches Early 2011
The workshop building was completed at the end of 2010 and dedicated on March 5, 2011. The workshop houses a sunlit, well-ventilated workspace holding 4 electric sewing machines and five pedal sewing machines. There is a small office/gift shop and a small storage room. It's open every day, all day long, with members currently numbering 65 and increasing in number each week.


Contact: Katherine Gnauck MD