Mona has channelled her life-long passion for sewing to support the community for many years, and her skillset has become even more valuable during the Covid-19 pandemic. Along with local volunteers, Mona has been making masks for frontline workers.
Where did your love for sewing begin?
As a child I was fascinated with the sewing machine, particularly the foot pedal, so from the age of 10 years I began sewing with my mother. I started with simple tasks such as hemming the bed sheets. After my degree I taught science in Egypt for 4 years. I gave this up for my love of sewing. I am passionate about teaching and providing services in the community that lead to its enrichment and I am proud to say that I have been in this community for 16 years and hope to continue.”
Tell us about Bow Sewing Centre.
A need was identified in the community to provide uniforms for schools. We developed this service in collaboration with parents and Clara Grant Primary School. Offering good quality uniforms at an affordable price, we were able to establish a personal service in the local vicinity.
In addition to this, together with the Workers’ Education Association and Poplar HARCA we were able to set up sewing classes for parents and others. Many of our students have a multi-cultural background and speak English only as a second language. Sewing is a comprehensive vocational skill which provides a platform for improving maths, English, and social skills. I am proud to say that this has empowered some of my students to set up their own businesses.
How are you supported by Poplar HARCA?
Both Poplar HARCA and WEA help publicise the classes on their websites, through social media and printed leaflets. Poplar HARCA also assists with administration and the maintenance of the workshop premises. They help stage the end of year exhibition showcasing the students’ work, organising the invitations and arranging media support whilst the WEA provides the students with certificates.
How have you been involved in the community response to Covid-19?
Volunteers and myself have been making face coverings for Poplar HARCA staff who are working on the frontline during the pandemic. We have to be mindful of social distancing in the sewing room so we are limited to a small number of volunteers. I have also made a video demonstrating how to make the face coverings which has been uploaded to the HARCA Centres Unlocked Facebook page. In future I will make more instructional videos, as this has been quite successful!