Pakistan, Asia

PAK01 - Sewing Centres

Partnership Ref.:



Azam & Barbara Gill



Funding Status:

No Current Donor

Partnership Type:

Community / Agriculture Development, Training / Education

Funding Size:

$8,000 - $14,999

Annual Budget:

US$ 13,898

Connected To:

PAK01a , PAK05 , PAK08


Population: 184.8 million

Life Expectancy: 66.0 years

GDP: US$1022 per capita

Unemployed: 15.0%

60.3% earn less than US$2/day

Current Partnership Impact

100 families are being assisted

100 people are in vocational or agricultural training

Partnership Overview

MachineChristian women in Pakistan face many pressures. Because they are Christians it is very diificult to get training and employment. They have little ability to become financially independent. They are often ostracized and suffer various forms of abuse because of their faith. Sometimes they are forced to marry and cannot break free from bondage.

As Azam and Barbara Gill work with many churches around the Punjab in Pakistan they find a lot of these women and are constantly being asked for help. Christian families are generally at the lowest end of society and to empower a woman and give her skills means that the whole family will benefit. In 2008 Azam and Barbara began with the first sewing project in the little suburb of Bara Kau in Islamabad. Since then, many courses have been run successfully and hundreds of women have been trained around Islamabad and the rural areas of Faisalabad and Toba Tek Singh. 

History Of Partnership

In 2002 BHW's field director met Azam Gill at an international conference. Azam had become a full-time church planter and leader. Azam and the BHW field director corresponded for a number of years. In 2007 Azam started talking about the possibility of doing something for the women in the churches as their plights were so desperate.

In 2008 the first sewing course was organised and ran successfully for two years in Bara Kau. At the end of 2009 it was shifted to Rawat (PAK01a), a different part of Islamabad, and ran there until 2017 when it was shifted to Wazir town (PAK01d) where it was run for three years. 

new skillsIn 2013 a similar sewing course began in the Toba Tek Singh area near to Faisalabad (PAK01c) and these continued through until 2018. Many women have been trained in villages, most are able to make an income for the family and some have obtained relatively well paid jobs in sewing factories in Faisalabad. From out of one of the centres a small business has been started that sees the women being paid for the garments they make (PAK01e). There is so much dignity created for these women from being able to contribute to their family's income. 

In 2019 it was decided to rationalise the programme and develop it more strategically. The final courses were wound up in their current locations at the end of 2019 and towards the end of 2020 they recommenced courses in two new villages. The main reason for this is so a broader intervention can be initiated in the villages. This had already begun in a modest way and from several of the sewing classes adult literacy programmes began. But there was a need for even deeper work to lift them out of poverty and the new initiatives should provide that. 

very gratefulBeneficiaries

Most courses have between 12 and 15 women in them and they receive a sewing machine on graduation. This provides them with the tool to continue using the skills they have learned. Even a poor sewer is able to earn up to 30% of a family's monthly income. Some are able to earn much more than the men in the family, most of whom are daily labourers or brick kiln workers.  

The trained woman benefits as does their family. 

What We Like About The Partnership 

We have a long term relationship with Azam and Barbara.
This type of project has proved itself to be effective in training and empowering women.
Many families are telling of the benefits of these programmes.
It provides many opportunities for discipling the women as they spend time together every day for 9 months in the training.
It gives many opportunities to develop relationships and breaks down barriers between Christians and Muslims in the community. Most of those trained are Christians but others are free to come as well. In addition, relationships are built with the families and many Christian families that have stopped coming to church re-engage. 


Key People

Leadership Profile

passionateAzam and Barbara Gill
Azam has been in ministry for a long time and is very passionate about the gospel. He is married to Barbara and they have three children. He gave his life to the Lord in 1987 and in 1991 joined a Bible School in Pakistan. The Gill family is well known and has served the community for many years, especially in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. He has a heart for evangelism but can see the benefits of providing training and education to the poor in his community. He sees his role is to commence a church, hand it over and then move on to another place.

They both come from Christian backgrounds, Azam from Christian brethren and Barbara from Baptist. They are passionate about seeing communities transformed by the power of the gospel and the presence of local churches. 

Barbara is a school teacher and is running a Christian school in Islamabad (PAK06). Azam is fearless in his proclamation of the gospel and travels around a lot preaching, leading, training people and developing new churches.


new skillsVision and Annual Strategy

The new initiative will see two courses run each year with the initial focus on rural villages. As the course in each village develops and relationships are formed, other initiatives will be developed as the local people are engaged. These will become separate projects and may include adult literacy, small scale loans, business start-ups and job creation. 


Annual Budget

The annual budget for each course is about US$2,500. This will vary from village to village depending on the number of women involved. The budget provides:
- sewing machines for each student 
- sewing tables 
- a pair of scissors for each student
- writing materials, cloth, material, cotton, thread, needles, emergency fund, operations, teacher salary, food, refreshments, bills, administration costs and transport. 


Personal Testimony


Learning new skillsA is a very shy lady, is married with 4 children. She and her husband have been coming to church for around 4 years. She says she loves coming to church but has not yet accepted Christ but she will one day. AA cannot read and has had little education. She desires to be able to contribute to the family income. Her husband is a chauffeur, he gets an income of around PR8,000 ($US106) per month but their rent is around PR5,000. She hopes she could earn around PR4,000 / month. 

Currently she hangs around at home keeping the house but wants to contribute by sewing at home, making the children’s clothes and selling clothes as well. She really enjoys the learning and the stimulation of being with the other women really encourages her.


K is a single woman and has just joined the course. She goes to the Catholic Church but they have no programmes like this. She has done Honours in textile and fashion from Punjab University in Lahore but cannot sew even though she has finished a degree. In her studies she learned mainly about Western style so wants to now learn local things. She thinks it’s a good thing for churches to be doing in the community and many will be helped over the years. Eventually she wants to start her own business and fashion boutique. There may be opportunities to start a business with other women for this.


T finished high school two years ago and has had no further studies nor has she been able to find work. One day she walked past the school with her father and saw the banner written about school.  Her father asked if she could be admitted to the course which was granted.  She walks 30 minutes to come to school.  She enjoys the class and thinks the teachers are good. She is a Muslim but has no problems with Christians praying or reading the Bible before class or sitting in the church hall. She has learned the basics of this handy work with no problems.