De Ladder Podcast Series #5: “Making your own clothes is fun and also saves money”

Learning how to make and repair your own clothing is also an example of taking a small step up the engagement ladder, and Samira is happy to help everyone out. (Photo: Jerry Van Buckle).

“Suppose you have children, wouldn’t it be easy to make their own clothes?” Or repair the rip by yourself, shorten the dress or skirt. There are many reasons why women from Leiden South West come to the “neighborhood hangout” for sewing lessons.

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At the Neighborhood Rendezvous Place (BOP) in Willem Clauslan, there’s a must-do every day. Drink coffee and tea of ​​course and a little chat with this or that. Although this is a bit tricky gossip around sewing machines. Because in addition to the weekly walk and language lesson, there is also a sewing club. Usually on Monday and Thursday afternoons.

It’s not well organized yet, but the enthusiasm is definitely there. Although not everyone learns how to use sewing machines themselves. Sometimes it’s easier to tie a “tutor” to shorten a dress or quickly put on a pillowcase. “Actually, the intention is for them to learn to sew themselves, but I can’t say no very well,” says Samira, one of those teachers. She skillfully moves the fabric, slightly adjusting the speed of the sewing machine.


In the podcast series De Ladder, podcasters Andy Clark and Jerry Van Buckle follow the folks of Willem Clauslan’s Meeting Place (BOP), Episode #5 is about the sewing club.

In the fifth episode of the De Ladder podcast series, the sewing class teachers have their say. Samira and Ilid. Two women, each with their own story. Both ended up in Leiden South-West at some point and in the BOP. They both believe that sewing clothes correctly and accurately requires patience and dedication.

In recent months, podcasters Andy Clark and Jerry Van Buckel have taken a closer look at Willem Clauslan’s Neighborhood Meeting (BOP) venue in Leiden Southwest. Who’s coming, what are they looking for? And they think there is. New social welfare organization Buzz Leiden moved to BOP in 2020. Or, as director Kirsten Zetman put it: “We like to be close to people.”

something new
Buzz Leiden focuses on the people in the neighborhood who are at the bottom of the engagement ladder and want to help them move forward, allowing them to take steps. No matter how small. Being able to fix your clothes or even make something completely new can be a huge step forward. It also saves money.

Samira is a 46-year-old Kurdish woman. She was born in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, and after marrying her cousin she ended up in Regensburg in 2002. She did not flee Iraq for war, but she has been marked by the various wars that have broken out in her homeland for as long as she can remember. It has gone through many explosions. “It became almost normal. The bombs come first, then you sleep.”

classmates
She remembers well one of the bombings in the mid-1980s. One or more heavy bombs fell near her house. In total, six to seven hundred people were killed. Also buddies Samira. “The next day we missed some girls at school.” When asked if she was afraid of not surviving, Samira replied, “Of course I was afraid. We had a little hideout in the basement. A small room in which we sometimes sat with forty people.”

In 1990, Samira’s parents decide that it is best to leave Baghdad and end up in a remote village where they still have a family. “Just a room, there was no water, no electricity,” Samira says. She walks for miles every day to fetch drinking water and firewood for cooking.

We received a grocery box every month. I barely got out.

A hard life and even if they dare to return to Baghdad after six years, life is hard. There was really no more war, but there was no work and no medicine. We received a grocery box every month. I barely got out.”

Civic integration course
At one point a cousin who has been living in the Netherlands for a few years comes to visit him. He asks Samira to marry him. She says yes. After the simple wedding, she has to wait about two years before she can also go to Holland. After all, Rensburg is not where they want their children to go to school, and in 2008 the family moved to Leiden.

Samira only attended primary school in Baghdad and learned some Dutch during the integration course. Now she basically wants to give her children a better life and take good care of them. At BOP she is a hostess and gives sewing lessons. “I am a social woman, I love to help others.”

The 68-year-old Eldi came to the Netherlands from Turkey in the 1970s. She and her husband ended up in Hengelo to work in the textile industry. She’s a little shy because she still doesn’t speak Dutch well. “It was not necessary at the time. We worked with many foreign workers. We had no intention of staying in the Netherlands forever.”

Shift work
Eladi and her husband have four children and work shifts to take care of everything in the house. And partly with success, because the four will study. Initiate. iLid is not working well. She suffers from heart problems and her marriage deteriorates. “When I got sick, my husband wanted to divorce me.”

Elaide moves to Leiderdorp to be closer to her children, but the fallout from the divorce separates her from her children. Eventually, she won’t see her children for about a year. “A very difficult and difficult time,” Elidi says, “I am a mother, what would I do without my children?”

This one tells me: Grandma, you speak bad Dutch, I can read with you better.

Fortunately, three of her children are fine and she can also see her grandchildren again. With childlike frank they tell their grandmother that she needs to practice more with her Dutch. “The one who says to me: Grandma, you speak bad Dutch, I can read with you better.” Elide can laugh about it, but she is trying to improve her Dutch with a language lesson without books.

To cut
She also loves to go for a walk, help in the garden, and also gives sewing lessons. Is it still in the fabric? “I enjoy teaching sewing and helping others with it,” Elide says. “I learned it as a girl in Turkey when I was eight years old. Learning to sew is not difficult, you have to learn it. Cutting is more difficult.” But until then, there is hope if you practice a lot. And for that you can go to BOP again. “This is what we want,” says development broker Marlis Tiebel of Buzz Leiden. Activities for and for people from the neighborhood.

This is the fifth part of De Ladder’s podcast series about the BOP residents of Leiden South West. You can also find De Ladder in your favorite podcast app. This series was made possible thanks to a financial contribution from the Leiden Media Fund.

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