Sewing seeds of hope
By Kerry Allan | South Africa in Southern Africa
People living in the crowded Cape Town townships face staggering challenges when it comes to poverty, unemployment, violence, and a host of other issues, but SIM’s Sarah Hopkins has found a way to help transform lives through her compassionate and diverse ministry.
Sarah is an Integrative Arts Psychotherapist and runs regular groups for adults and teenagers, combining emotional support with practical training and studying the Bible.
Following the end of a short-term mission placement in South Africa, Sarah joined SIM in January to continue her successful ministry.
Her journey to South Africa began after she graduated from university with a degree in costume-making. She then spent 10 years in England teaching and running sewing classes and gaining a Masters in Integrative Arts Psychotherapy to fulfil her long-held dream of living and working in Africa.
“I enjoy being able help people holistically — emotionally, practically and spiritually..."
“I enjoy being able help people holistically — emotionally, practically and spiritually — so when I came to a stage where I felt there was nothing keeping me in England, I prayed and pursued options of approaching organisations to work in Africa, where I believed I could best use my gifts and skills,” she says.
“I’d always imagined being in a rural place and never expected to end up in South Africa, so it was a surprise when I was offered Cape Town, but I had a peace about it because I realised it would be a good place to use my therapy skills and three years on, I’m still here!”
As part of her ministry, Sarah befriends people living in the Cape Town townships, where she combines her creative skills with her therapy training to help people recover from the traumas they experience.
“I teach practical and life skills to help them develop as people and to help them find their identity in Christ through bible studies,” she explains.
Sarah runs weekly groups, including a sewing class for women from the townships, which she started from scratch three years ago.
She began by teaching the basics, including how to use a sewing machine and cut out fabric, until today, the women are proficient seamstresses who can produce wonderful garments, from dresses and hoodies to bags and hats.
As well as teaching them to sew, Sarah uses her therapy skills to also help them emotionally.
“The sewing classes are a safe place where the women can support each other and honestly share how they feel, which they really appreciate.”
One of Sarah’s goals for 2023 is to help start a business so the women can sell the things they make.
“I want the women to earn an income for themselves and also to find more meaning and purpose in their lives making and producing things.”
Another aspect of Sarah’s ministry is building relationships with underprivileged teenagers. Estimates suggest that up to 80% of children living in the Cape Town townships area will have experienced some sort of trauma in their lives and all from a very young age, so Sarah’s approach is to take them into God’s creation and trek around Table Mountain once a month.
“After a while, we stop and have a little snack,” she says, “then I do a therapeutic session with them on the mountain and then a bible story before we walk back.”
Sarah also supports colleagues from other Christian organisations to train and equip them in their work with the homeless.
And as she looks forward to expanding her ministry, there’s no doubt Sarah will continue to use her therapy and creative skills to serve the needs of others by bringing comfort, hope and healing to the people she ministers to.
•Give thanks Sarah is able to build relationships and share the good news and hope she has in Christ through her ministry.
• Ask that the hearts of the people Sarah ministers to,will be healed as they are pointed to Christ.
•Pray that Sarah can continue to use her sewing and therapy skills to glorify God.