Rio Rancho, NM – Andrew Chapuma, Emissary for King Henry Sosala of Zambia in Africa, recently visited a humanitarian sewing group in Rio Rancho called Women of Worth. He and other leaders participated in a brief reception in Rio Rancho on Monday, November 13, to celebrate the service of these women.
Some of the other government and church leaders in attendance were State Representative Jason C. Harper, Rio Rancho Mayor Greggory D. Hull and LDS Rio Rancho Stake President Casey C. Allman.
For the community-based sewing group, which meets the second Monday of every month in Rio Rancho at the Cabezon chapel of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints, this was a regular workday. With quilting frames, work tables, sewing machines, an array of fabrics, and sewing supplies, the women were all busily creating a variety of projects.
This multi-denominational group was established about three years ago to serve the community with their sewing projects. Susan Whetten has been the leader since its beginning, and Ellen Hatala has helped to find contacts and needs within the area. It is open to anyone, male or female, adult or child, who would like to participate. Typically during the summer, school-age children and youth help out as well.
The sewing group has a common purpose: to create items for individuals and animals, often in distress, that will improve their lives. They have made quilts, blankets, heart pillows (used under a seat belt after heart surgery), breast pillows (to increase comfort for women and men after breast surgery), stuffed animals, knitted hats and dog chew toys. They donate them to hospitals, local animal shelters and other groups or individuals as needed.
Women of Worth, sponsored by the LDS Rio Rancho Stake, recently contributed to making hygiene kits for girls in Africa. These kits, which consist of underwear and washable sanitary pads, assist girls in developing countries who do not have access to disposable products. Rather than staying home from school one week each month, which prevents them from graduating, the kits enable the girls to attend school regularly and have the opportunity to graduate.
Dannie Harper, a member of the Women of Worth sewing group, coordinated with Christine Glidden, president and founder of a non-profit charity in Albuquerque called Women To Be. This organization has distributed hygiene kits for girls in Nepal and Guatemala and will distribute about 1000 kits made by made by Women of Worth and other sewing groups in New Mexico in Zambia in June 2018. It was Glidden who arranged for Emissary Chapuma to visit the sewing group in Rio Rancho on November 13. In her short speech at the reception, Glidden praised those in the group who “tirelessly sew” and expressed appreciation for their service.
Chapuma, who also spoke, represents the King of the Bembe tribe. This is the largest tribe in Zambia, consisting of about 4 million people, and it occupies the most extensive land mass in this African country. Chapuma and the King are interested in becoming better acquainted with American culture and in nurturing an economic partnership. They are both supportive of and grateful for the hygiene kits that will be distributed in Zambia.
At the reception, Chapuma spoke of the importance of women in his “matrilineal society.” He explained, “For us as Zambians, we respect women. We treasure women. Women carry the child in the womb.” The hygiene kits will enable girls in his country to move forward, complete their schooling, and experience more opportunities in life. He commented, “God is watching over us and cares about us.”
Casey Skousen, LDS Director of Public Affairs in Rio Rancho, told Emissary Chapuma: “We are honored to share with you and your people.” Skousen, aware of the value of the hygiene kit project and the impact it would have on the lives of Zambian girls, commented further, “When you change lives, you change generations, and when you change generations you change the world.”