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Stitching together lives and new skills at the ‘Sewing Center’

Cynthia Khan makes a pitch at the most recent Hamtramck SOUP event for her sewing instructional school that helps immigrant women learn a trade. Khan didn’t win the proceeds from the SOUP event but she is still seeking donations to expand her operation.

Cynthia Khan makes a pitch at the most recent Hamtramck SOUP event for her sewing instructional school that helps immigrant women learn a trade. Khan didn’t win the proceeds from the SOUP event but she is still seeking donations to expand her operation.

 

By Mike Murphy
Special to The Review
Cynthia Khan is attempting to make something temporary permanent by seeking out funding for an International Sewing Center in Hamtramck.
Khan has appealed to Hamtramck SOUP for a micro-grant to help her organization establish itself permanently and provide the center with new equipment like sewing machines and other sewing supplies so that the women who come to the Sewing Center can improve their skills.
Khan already heads two sewing centers — one in Warren and one in Dearborn — that are designed primarily to assist immigrants and refugees coming to the Detroit area find friendship, and hone skills that will someday earn them some money, but all women are welcome.
“It is mainly for women who are sitting at home, and don’t drive, to get out of the house,” said Khan, who added that many of the women are non-English speakers.
“These centers also provide them a place to socialize, make friends, build bridges, and an outlet from their daily activities to come and sit and relax in a safe and friendly atmosphere,” Khan said.
Khan said companies and organizations supply the centers with projects and the women sew a wide variety of items, including bags of all sorts and aprons. They also do alterations and some other tailoring work, she said.
Hamtramck’s Sewing Center is currently located in a temporary space and is using donated machines that do not work very well. The non-profit centers depend entirely on donations and volunteers.
Khan said that if a permanent location, better equipment, and more volunteer sewing instructors are found the Hamtramck center will benefit Hamtramck women and women from all over the Detroit area.
“It is in Hamtramck and for Hamtramck women, but women can come from anywhere,” Khan said.
The word “international” means something to Khan, who said that while most of the women coming to the temporary Hamtramck location have been Bengali women, she would like to see representatives from other countries join the group.
“I would love to see more Bosnians and Polish coming,” Khan said. “We have so much talent in Hamtramck. It really is amazing.”
She said the main goal is to bring the skills of the women up to a level where they can be paid for their work.
“This is the first step,” Khan said. “We are not at that level yet.”
Anyone interested in more information about the International Sewing Center can contact Cynthia Khan at (248) 659-2063 or firstneeds@gmail.com.

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