Photo Credit: Pastor Leighton Kasimo and his wife Ato.

General Conference

Helping women stay above the poverty line in PNG

To help struggling women in PNG, Pastor Leighton Kasimo and his wife Ato run classes in sewing to help them find financial dependence.

Papua New Guinea | Maryellen Hacko

With a passion for improving the welfare of women and their families in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Pastor Leighton Kasimo has repaired and helped to distribute more than 1600 sewing machines since 2014 to upskill and empower women in need.

“I noticed that there is great need among women and families, so I discussed it with my wife and we decided to assist with necessary skills,” he says. “We have to address social issues affecting families.”

Being in pastoral ministry since 2008 and ordained in 2012, Kasimo currently serves the church as stewardship and family ministries director for the Western Highlands Mission (WHM). It wasn’t until an Australian man by the name of Brian O’Hare from Perth taught Kasimo to repair sewing machines in 2014 that he made it a focus of his ministry.

“James Ua introduced Brian to us at Kimininga Mission Headquarters and that is where I grabbed the opportunity as a hobby,” he says, “but it has turned into a ministry to meet the needs of others.”

Lacking the finances to buy sewing machines for the women themselves, Kasimo and his wife, Ato, with whom he partners in the ministry, rely on the generosity of ADRA and people from Australia and overseas to support and sustain their work.

In one instance, stewardship and health director Anita Kup requested funding from ADRA in 2018, which was used by the Kasimos to provide 23 manual sewing machines to women in need and conduct training in how to use them.

“God has blessed me and my family abundantly to become blessings to many families who are struggling to live above the poverty line, by repairing their sewing machines and also imparting other skills to them so they can earn income to sustain their lives like putting food on the table and paying school fees for their children,” the pastor emphasizes.

In addition to sewing classes, the Kasimos also train women in draping, flower arranging, tailoring, music sight-reading, financial literacy, sewing machine repair, and nutrition and healthy living.

“Ato is gifted in draping, flower arranging, and tailoring, and as partners in ministry we witness to others that Jesus loves and cares for them,” he says.

Kasimo organizes his sewing machine ministry around trips to districts and other appointments during the year.

“I follow my yearly planner and go to the districts with my wife and other facilitators to conduct the training,” he explains. “There I also conduct evangelistic meetings, workshops on stewardship, and family ministries, as well as visit churches or women’s groups upon request.”

When asked why he is so determined to improve the lives of women in this way, Kasimo replies, “Women play an important role in managing family affairs. Women are [often] seen as a second class [yet] must become breadwinners for their families. I want to help them, especially those who have survived domestic violence and abuse.”

In addition to donations of funds and sewing machines, Kasimo says other items are needed to continue his ministry, including a quality camera to capture photos and videos for Adventist Record and other news outlets, a used vehicle so that the team can travel to the more remote districts to conduct training, fabrics appropriate for sewing clothing, a generator for electricity in remote places, French curve rulers in different sizes for pattern design and cutting, and a tent for the team when they conduct training in remote areas.

“I am convinced that God has blessed me and my wife with many skills and motivated us to share what we have with others to improve their living standards,” the pastor says. “Women are good managers of homes, therefore equipping them with skills means a lot in nation-building.”

If you would like to support the Kasimos and their team in this important work, you can contact Pastor Kasimo via email at [email protected].

This article was originally published on the website of Adventist Record.