April 2012

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sizes that it is about more than the bottom line—it's also about boosting the farmers' economic autonomy. Now, several times a year, Nicaise travels to Haiti and, through the vast network of farming co-ops (which are home to nearly 100,000 farmers), buys beans. Meeting with the farmers at every stop, she coaches them on investing wisely in their busi- nesses, improving land management, and bettering their employee practices, opera- tions and more. Though happy to continue operating as a middle-man of sorts, connecting the Hai- tian farmers with roasters and then con- sumers, her long-term goal is to empower the farmers to run their own show, and maybe one day even be creditors for other ventures sprouting nearby. "Some say it sounds big, but it's prac- tical and makes sense," she says. "We've got people 680 miles south of Miami who could really use a hand. Not a handout, but a hand." (MP) Find Singing Rooster coffee at SERRV, 2701 Monroe St., Madison; (608) 233-4428 or at Sewing Lives Back Together in Sri Lanka, Margaret Jankowski has always found solace in sewing. The whirl of the machine, the rhythmic sounds of the needle, the satisfaction of creating something transports her to a meditative place. So it's no surprise that Jankowski found her calling helping women around the world do the same. The executive director of The Sewing Machine Project, a local nonprofit delivering free sewing machines to women in places as far away as Kosovo, Sri Lanka and Mexico, and as nearby as New Orleans and right here in Madison, Jankowski stumbled into the position almost by accident. It was 2005. As images of the devastating tsu- nami in Southeast Asia spread around the world, one particular story caught Jankowski's eye. In a BBC report, a journalist detailed the experience of a Sri Lankan woman who had lost her sewing machine in the storm—washing away her only means of income. Jankowski , who at the time worked in sales at a sewing center, couldn't stop thinking about the woman. It didn't take long before she decided there was only one thing to do. "I thought, 'I just have to start collecting ma- chines,'" she recalls. With about 25 donated machines, she made a shipment to Sri Lanka under the name the Tsunami Relief Project. Just months later, Hurricane Katrina made its way to New Orleans. With the property and lives of so many suddenly in tatters, Jankowski once again began collecting machines. Since then, she's distributed more than 750 Kosovo and Beyond How Margaret Jankowski found a little sewing machine can make a big difference close to home and abroad sewing machines to New Orleans residents who line up to take advantage of the help, sharing their stories of the difference this simple machine can make. From offering the same kind of peace Jankowski finds to being a practical tool for mak- ing clothes for their families or to sell, the need Jankowski has unearthed has been overwhelming. "I am often floored by the magnitude of this … and how much it has evolved," she explains. While she's distributed the most machines to New Orleans, other opportunities have had a way of knocking at Jankowski's door. Her trip to deliver machines in Kosovo, for ex- ample, was inspired by a neighbor who arrived on her doorstep with stories of women who could use the help. From there, offers came to fund a trip, and machine donations arrived right in time. Now with the growth of the project, Jankowski has quit her day job to focus solely on the project. She is currently in partnership discussions with groups in Vietnam, Guatemala and Congo while also running a program to teach Bhutanese im- migrants in Madison how to sew. With each group, she encourages recipients to pay it forward. It's a message she says has been wholeheartedly embraced, creating a growing net- work not just of machines, but garments, blankets and other gifts being passed around the world. "Every once and awhile I think 'This is just a cool idea I had,'" she says. "And to feel it catch on…it's exciting." (MP) For more information, visit April 2012 47

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