This may surprise some of my regular readers, but I don’t spend ALL of my time in the desert. Being a “trailing expat wife” means I have limited work options here in the UAE, but I do like to keep busy, and I’d like to tell you about a project I have been involved with for 3 years now.
Within days of arriving here in June 2009, I learned of a lady who ran a sewing group making “zonta” cushions for breast cancer sufferers at Tawam hospital. Having had my own curtain making business for 14 years (even though I didn’t sew them myself for 10 of those years!), this group was a perfect way for me to spend some of my leisure time gainfully.
The group were really friendly and welcoming, and the lady in charge at the time, Tess, is delightful. The cheap sewing machine I had bought here wouldn’t sew my curtains for my villa, so she loaned me her machine while she went on holiday – how’s that for a kind and generous spirit after only meeting me once! Tess now lives in Abu Dhabi but the group she started in 2008 carries on meeting twice a month.
I have made friends from all over the world through the Pink Ladies, as we work together to make these packs which bring both comfort and clinical benefits to those who are undergoing treatment for this terrible disease.
Tawam Hospital, which is the major Breast Care Centre in the UAE, pay for the materials, and those of us who have them bring our own sewing machines. We were short of machines a while ago and someone donated some cash for us to buy one – many expat wives here haven’t brought their sewing machines with them. If anyone is reading this in the UAE and has a sewing machine surplus to their requirements, our group could definitely use one.
Making these cushions was the inspiration for the Pink Drive, which I have been heavily involved with during the last two years in my role as a marshal for UAEoffroaders. We have raised 28000aed so far, and this money goes to the Patient Fund at Tawam Hospital.
Time out article Time Out AD Article on Pink Ladies
By the way it was a stock photo Time Out used – I think they thought we weren’t quite glam enough!
Now as a footnote, I was very fortunate to have a wonderful wee Glasgweigan lady called Jenny in my employ many years ago – she was 68 when she started working for me, and had been in sewing jobs since she was 13 and 3/4, “and never once had the sack”! She coached me and my other employees in professional sewing and handling techniques, and I feel honoured to be able to pass this knowledge on to our group to help us make our cushions more efficiently. I have the added benefit of remembering her and her interesting anectodes as well as her wicked sense of humour every time I sew with the group.
In memory of Jenny McIntyre – 1932-2004 – you’ll never be forgotten!