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.

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Pastor Leighton Kasimo and his wife Ato.

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 a great need for women and families, so I discussed with my wife and decided to assist with necessary skills. We have to address social issues affecting families,” he says.

Being in pastoral ministry since 2008 and ordained in 2012, Pastor 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 Pastor Kasimo to repair sewing machines in 2014, that he made it a focus of his ministry.

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

Lacking the finances to buy sewing machines for the women themselves, Pastor Kasimo and his wife Ato, who he partners with 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 Pastor and Mrs Kasimo 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.”

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

“[My wife] is gifted in draping, flower arranging and tailoring and therefore as partners in ministry we are a witness to others that Jesus loves and cares for them,” he says.

Pastor Kasimo organises 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. There I also conduct evangelistic meetings, workshops on stewardship and family ministries and visit churches or women’s groups upon request apart from my departmental duties,” he explains.

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

In addition to donations of funds and sewing machines, Pastor 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. Women are good managers of homes, therefore by equipping them with skills means a lot in nation building,” he says.

If you would like to support Pastor Kasimo and his team in their important work, you can contact him further via email at LeightonKasimo@adventist.org.pg.