Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

Theresa turns her passion for sewing into a small business

Theresa Kila Pat is proud that her passion for sewing has not only become a small business for her family, but that she can also teach other women in her community how to earn money as seamstresses.

“Sewing was something I learned in my home economics class in high school many years ago, and because of my passion for sewing, I easily learned the skills from my mother as well and since then, sewing has been my hobby for the past 33 years,” the mother of four said.

Through the PNG–Australia Partnership, Theresa was amongst 23 participants, including Kokoda Village Health Volunteers (VHVs), who undertook the Seif Meri Mun (SMM) training conducted by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Kokoda.  

The SMM project provided women and girls living in the Kokoda Track region with a way to better manage menstruation with dignity and ensure women’s participation in education, training, and employment opportunities by supplying free reusable sanitary pads to women in remote communities.

Through the Kokoda Initiative’s livelihood program, Australia supports women and vulnerable groups with improved access to income generation activities and inclusive services. The Seif Meri Mun project facilitated training that taught local women sewing skills and provided further opportunities for income generation. Theresa subsequently helped to train 16 women as seamstresses. The women produced over 700 sanitary hygiene kits for women and girls in the Kokoda Track region.

Since the engagement with the SMM program, Theresa has expanded her business by purchasing four new sewing machines. “Being engaged as the project supervisor to lead on this SMM project urged me to go beyond my limit,” she said. “I worked hard and now own six sewing machines, which I use to sew for my business and teach other women in my community.” 

In addition to her tailoring business, Theresa runs weekly sewing sessions at home with women from her community, where she teaches them how to sew simple household products.

“Not only do I train other women, but I teach my children as well, and I tell them sewing is a life skill.”

“From watching me teach other women to sew, my 22-year-old son David can now sew pillowcases, face masks, curtains and even helped sew sanitary hygiene kits. Seeing my son learn this skill makes me a proud mother and trainer.”

Theresa sews meri blouses, skirts, pillowcases, tablecloths, curtains, face masks and sanitary hygiene kits for schoolgirls and women.

“I aim to partner with our community schools in Oro and sew uniforms and supply SMM kits to girls in Oro Province schools,” said Theresa.


Theresa Kila Pat prepares her sewing machines at her home for training with women in her community, in Hanjiri, Oro Province.

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