In June 2008, Lyn Jordan, from Overnewton Anglican College, visited Chibobo to escort a local boy, Joshua, back to Australia for an operation on his badly deformed feet.   Whilst she was there she observed that the Carers for the orphans sat around with little to do for some of the day and wondered if anything could be done to help keep these ladies occupied.

A group from St Mary’s Anglican Church, Sunbury visited Chibobo in late June 2008, and took on board Lyn’s concerns, led by the accomplished Gill Garth.


During their time at Chibobo they were able to teach various crafts to the Carers, which included 8 ladies and 2 men.   They were quick to master knitting and made beautiful hats and scarves from wool that had been taken over.   That evening there were smiles all around as the St. Mary’s group saw ladies everywhere knitting, under trees, on doorsteps and even in the group’s kitchen area

The next day the group met again and this time decided to do some basic dressmaking – just simple skirts with elastic waistbands and shorts.   Again they were very quick to learn.   Most was done by hand as the sewing machines they had were broken.   (Since then St Mary’s has provided some treadle sewing machines).

These Carers were so enthusiastic that they wanted to meet again and again but with the supply of wool and material running out scraps were used to make a patchwork wall hanging, which now proudly hangs in the orphanage hall.
At the end of this day the group decided to form The Koala Club and each member received a clip on koala


Since returning to Australia Gill Garth linked ‘The Koala Club’ with St Mary’s Craft Group who have been sending them wool and material on a regular basis.   The club has gone from strength to strength and now has 22 members.  They have formed a “constitution” and pay a small annual fee.  They are now making school uniforms for the orphans.

Gill returned to Chibobo in July 2009 taking with her sewing supplies, needles, pins, cottons, scissors, tape measures, all generously donated.  (Prior to this the ladies had only one pair of scissors and minimum sewing aids.)   It was such a thrill to see how this group had grown.   The Carers had invited ladies from the surrounding area to join them on a Tuesday and some now walk up to 10 km (with babies on their backs) to enjoy a time of friendship and sewing.

 On this visit the ladies were taught how to make simple bags and placemats, which were brought back to Australia to sell.   These were made out of local Zambian material and it is hoped to be able to supply these on a regular basis.
The group is now looking into making school uniforms for local schools, which they will sell, thereby earning an income for Chibobo.    They are also talking about taking their skills further afield and forming outreach groups for people who cannot travel to Chibobo.

 These ladies have certainly been empowered and it is wonderful to see the progress that has been made since Lyn Jordan observed that these ladies “had nothing to do”.