Secret Projects

Pillow power.

What can a pillow do for women in rural India? Fritha Vincent enlightens Federica Dadone.

The roar of the sewing machine has been the soundtrack of Fritha Vincent’s life. As a child, growing up in Britain with deafness and dyslexia, she would snuggle underneath pillows for safety and security. Her best friend’s mother used to make ‘quillows’, pillows that opened out into quilts.

Years later, while working for Save the Children as a fundraiser, she stumbled on a women’s group in a remote village in Kerala, who were herding goats and making flower wreaths. As she chatted and made knotted rosebuds with the women she spied a treadle sewing machine in a corner covered in dust. The women told her they had had stitching training through a microfinance loan and actually wanted to sew and sell cotton products, but there was no market.

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