LED BY THE MASTER’S HAND: DISCOVERING OUR GIFTS AND SKILLS (SIERVAS DE SAN JOSE, PAPUA NEW GUINEA)





The theme of the combined graduation ceremony of the trainees of Basic Sewing 1 and Basic Sewing 2 speaks of the experience of these women who have undergone training with Minerva Hernandez, SSJ as the head trainer and her collaborators, Skills Training Staff Lavinia Jingasabae as lay co- trainer and Helen Kigodi, volunteer trainer for Basic Stitches.

The start of training was on February 15, 2016 which ran daily for three months from Monday to Friday, with the closing ceremony on May 26, 2016. Basic Sewing 1 trainees had the morning time slot and in the afternoon were the Basic Sewing 2 trainees.

There were ten (10) trainees in Basic Sewing 1 who completed the training which included sewing of 73 Basic Stitches compiled in an album and other required projects such as apron, blouse, skirt with pockets and a simple dress.

In order to put into use the basic stitches, each trainee was asked to make a wall decoration with a cultural design showing the richness of the province they are from. This was how they began to appreciate and enjoy the basic stitches, the work of their hands. One trainee was able to sell her wall decoration of the National Capital District emblem for K350.00 to her surprise. Others were bought during the Exhibit Day at the center last March 19.



In this basic course of sewing, the trainees taught how to use the hand machine after knowing the different machine parts and the function of each part. As they were using their hand machine, Minerva also gave them tips to troubleshoot since most of them will be back to their village with no technician and no power supply.

Through patience and determination, the trainees slowly learned the art and techniques of basic sewing with pattern making. It was a struggle for most of them because they were not really keen on the measurements and how to lay out there body measurement on the pattern paper. Eventually, seeing their creation made them feel more interested to go on even at times it was hard.

For Basic Sewing 2, which is equivalent to Advance Sewing Course, six (6) trainees persevered and marched on the day of their graduation. They had for their projects: pillow cases, bed sheet, bed cover, culottes skirt, blouse with continuous sleeves, simple evening dress, men’s shirt for their father or husband, circular, 6-gore or 8-gore skirts and princess dress. The skills and the techniques they learn from every project will lead them to the completion of the next one. This approach has been very challenging to the trainees as well as to the trainees in maintaining the quality of their completed project.


The joy of the group was that when they come back to the training centre each morning, they would share how their Mom or Dad or husband and other members of the family became amazed with what the trainee is doing that they want to have something sewn by them.

This time, the trainees are taught to use the electric machine in view of their own use or being employed in any shop or company.

Many things transpired in the training. It was only a matter of learning the skill and techniques in sewing but growth in their values and faith was also noted and expressed by the trainees themselves.

They are grateful because they fulfilled their dreams. They experienced the presence of God while learning new designs and doing their projects. They learned and valued the culture of sharing as they gave their time assisted each other, especially those who were a bit slow in catching up the process of completing a project. They showed their capacity for team work, which was highlighted during the exhibit, exposure day to the different shops/department stores and the closing activity/graduation. They became at home in showing their love and concern for each other. They also accepted the challenges to be empowered women.

These positive changes in our trainees were noticed by their family members and relatives. and were supported by them in their desire to learn and gain the skill in sewing. The training became a family endeavor.

The graduation was graced by the presence of Archbishop Sir John Ribat, Fr. Dong, PIME (ASAC Director), Fr. Sonny, SDB (Mary Help of Christians Parish Priest who sent two women for this course), Yolanda, SSJ and the trainees’ families and relatives as a show of their strong support and encouragement.




Basic Sewing 1 Graduates with Archbishop Ribat,
Fr. Dong, PIME and Sr. Minerva, SSJ

Basic Sewing 2 Graduates with Archbishop Ribat,
Fr. Dong, PIME and Sr. Minerva, SSJ

In this celebration, each graduate was given time to personally share the highlight of her experience during the course of training. Some expressed their joy in learning new things, not only in sewing but also in time management, house cleaning and budgeting. Most of all, coming from different Churches or denominations, they expressed their growth in their faith life and learning how to put into practice human and Christian values.

As they received their Certificate of Completion from the Archbishop, assisted by Fr. Dong and Yolanda, each one came with that sense of pride and gratitude to have reached this far.


In his speech, the Archbishop affirmed the contribution of the ASAC Skills Training Centre to the lives of men and women who pass through this way of learning the skill of sewing and all about life and faith that goes with it.

Though the ceremony ended, the journey has just begun for the graduates as they look to a future that offers them many possibilities. It is hope that they face the new phase of their life with St. Bonifacia and Fr. Butinyà whom they have known having been with us at the centre for this span of three months.

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