Mary Connors started a sewing group in Thames a couple months ago. Far from being a way to pass time, this group hopes to prevent girls from falling into the hands of predators in India.
Learning about the problem in India from a Baptist newsletter, Mrs Connors, who is a Catholic, said she was moved to help.

International news reports citing statistics from the Ministry of Women and Child Development in India said about 20,000 women and children were trafficked in that
country last year. The figures quoted showed that there were 9104 trafficked children last year — a 27 per cent increase from the previous year.

Girls from the poorest families are often prey to traffickers who either force them into brothels or marriages to men four times older than they are.

“We were informed that if the children had better quality dress on, the sex traffickers would leave them alone in the streets more because they’ll think someone’s looking after them and they’ve got good family behind them,” Mrs Connors explained.

The group is non-denominational, she said, adding that they sew dresses for girls sized 1 to 12.

“We’ve sent some through now. I think we’ve done about 30 at the moment. That’s about where we’re at,” Mrs Connors said.

She said she tried contacting the Missionaries of Charity, but was not successful.

“I didn’t know how to send them (dresses) anyway to Calcutta or Mother Teresa’s sisters so we’re doing it through the Baptist Church. It’s been going pretty well at the moment,” Mrs Connors added.

She said there is a “band of eight to ten people” in their group and not all are sewers.

“One lady’s nearly blind so she just threads the elastic around the neck and pins it so that it’s ready to sew on,” she said. “Some just help sort out the materials and put the colours together.”

They include “a new pair of knickers and hankies” along with the dress.

Mrs Connors said the Salvation Army also provides them with materials such as cotton duvet covers and curtains that they can sew into dresses.

The group meets every Thursday morning at the Elim Church where the donated sewing machines and overlockers are.

“Our main problem is buying the elastic which is going around the neck,” she added.

Mrs Connors said they still welcome people who want to help.

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