The following is the full report submitted by Oikos Helping Hand on the roll out of Brother sewing machines in the poverty stricken areas of Manila. With the help of local women, the sewing machines are used to teach the new generation in the art of sewing. The sewing machines are also being used to create face masks which are donated to the poor areas who need it the most during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Oikos Sewing Machine Project

In Partnership with Brother International Philippines and The Gap Agency


The Philippines is considered as a third world country. As we all know, most of the items here will be purchased as retail and very rare for the families to buy in volume or in bulk. Maybe if you are one of the middle class, you can afford to buy things in volumes. Same as in business, especially in garments factory. Unless you have a very good market like supplying in a large company of branded or semi branded jeans, t-shirt and other wearable items then your business will run very well. Tondo, is one of the poorest areas in Philippines, located in Metro Manila. Most of the people here live in the system we called hand to mouth. But some people think of other ways wherein they can survive for their everyday living.

With this partnership of Oikos Helping Hand, Gap Agency and Brother International Philippines, we started to provide training for our people in slum area, specifically the place of Aroma in Tondo, Manila wherein they can use this as their means of living. When we started, we have about 8 ladies who are engaged in this training. Two of them are experienced in using sewing machine and they have become our trainer to teach the students the basic of sewing. We have seen that the students are persevering in learning how to sew and how it would benefit them.

Another good thing is that there is one garments company, the CYC Made to Measure, a men’s clothes shop that donated 2000 pcs of ready to sew face mask. This will become a livelihood for our people in Aroma, where we ministered at. We manage to get some mothers who knows how to sew, and this will become their hope to earn money. We pay them P4 each for every face mask they sew. Since we started sewing, we managed to finish sewing 670 pcs of face mask. All these sewed masks were given for free to our recipients in slum area, some for the workers and some for the church members.

With the partnership with Brother International Philippines by donating five Brother JA1400 Sewing Machines and Gap Agency who also donated five Brother JA1400 Sewing Machines. The sewers experienced to learn how to use the portable sewing machines. At first there were adjustments from the sewers in using the machine since they were used to the old type of sewing machine which is the manual type but eventually, they got used to using the portable type.

We also have sewers who sew round shaped rugs which are used by printing shops. Printing shops are our market for these rugs but for the moment, demands for these rugs were quite low because of the pandemic. Once the lockdown eases and printing shops starts to open again, we will supply them the rugs sewn from the machines donated by Brother and Gap Agency.

Having this partnership with Brother International Philippines, GAP Agency and CYC Made to Measure is really a great partnership. The sewing machines that were donated plus the face mask ready to sew is a good start for Oikos to fulfil one of the missions of Oikos Helping Hand and that is to provide our people a decent life and to raise their dignity thru this livelihood program.

The original plan for the Sewing Machines that was donated by Brother International Philippines and GAP Agency is for Oikos to teach sewing to those people who are living in slum areas. Our desire is for them to get out of poverty by teaching them to learn how to sew clothes, pillowcases, rugs, and other things that can help earn a living to feed their families. Though we knew that the system of their life in that area is not easy, we are trying to break down their mentality that is why we will still focus on our plan.

Though there are few students for now, Oikos still plans to continuously recruit students by means of weekly sewing workshops to find students who will become interested in using the sewing machines and eventually making sewing as their means of livelihood.

For the future, we are also planning to set up a sewing project in Las Pinas and Bocaue, Bulacan since we have people in these places. In Las Pinas, we can offer it to the parents of our scholars so they can start learning and help them with their everyday needs by sewing and selling rugs, facemask, pillowcases, and other items that they can sew. In Bulacan, we have few leaders there who are interested to learn but because the church is not yet ready, we do not have a place yet to set up the learning area for sewing.

Our desire for the people is for them to learn how to look for a market. Rugs are very easy because this is considered a necessity, especially for public transport and printing press. For the clothes, we will look for a middleman so we can be a subcontractor for their needs of ready to wear clothes, pajamas, and others. I always heard this quote from our Executive Director, Mr. Ivan Ho, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This quote means a lot for all of us Filipino’s. It will come into reality thru this partnership that we have with Brother International Philippines and CYC Made to Measure through the help of The Gap Agency. This is the time that we can teach our recipients how to fish that will help them feed for the lifetime.

Thank you and God Bless!