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How a sewing course sparked Pure Joy

TAFE NSW Hornsby

How a sewing course sparked Pure Joy

At 69, Joan Redmond enrolled in a short sewing course at TAFE NSW Hornsby to refresh her skills, now she’s passing these skills on to disadvantaged women in Uganda through the life skills program, Pure Joy.

Ms Redmond has travelled to Jinja in Uganda four times since setting up Pure Joy, a project funded by the Rotary Club Woy Woy that provides vocational skills to Ugandan women in the hopes that they can build a better life.

On her visit in March 2019, Ms Redmond held a 10-day course where she taught the women what she had learnt during her time at TAFE NSW Hornsby like how to sew, cut patterns and how to make zipped purses as it was one of her favourite lessons.

Ms Redmond said, “Many of the women grew up in poor rural communities where they received little or no education or the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. Pure Joy gives them the chance to learn a new skill that they can then use to make their own products like bags, purses and clothes to sell at their local tourist market.

We had five ladies graduate with a Certificate of Attainment from this sewing course who will go on to make many different crafts as well as uniforms for local schools.”

Ms Redmond first learnt to sew as a young girl living in Ireland, but after years off the tools she discovered her skills were quite rusty.

“I’d lost confidence in my sewing skills and realised that I’d forgotten many of the basics. I really didn’t want to fly all the way to Uganda and not be able to teach these women what they needed to know, so I thought it was time to refresh my skills.”

Jumping on the computer, Ms Redmond discovered there was a Statement of Attainment in Fashion Essentials starting at TAFE NSW Hornsby the following Monday. “It was like the stars aligned, so I enrolled.” said Ms Redmond.

“I was nervous to be back in a learning environment, but my TAFE NSW teacher Joanne Sykes was excellent, and oh so patient. She taught me really well and I left the course a confident sewer and took the design skills Joanne taught me to Uganda.”

This is not the first time that Ms Redmond has completed at TAFE NSW course, explaining that in 1993 she completed computer and desktop publishing courses at TAFE NSW Newcastle.

“I was living in Maitland with my husband and kids when I wanted to go back to the workforce and realised that my skills weren’t up to date. Two short six week courses changed my career and as a result, I was employed for the next 20 years until I retired.” 

Australia’s largest training provider, TAFE NSW offers over 1200 courses, from certificates to degrees. Many can be studied online via TAFE Digital, when and where it suits students. Visit  or call 131 601.

Media contact: Emma Cawley, TAFE NSW Media and Communications Business Partner, mobile 0412 478 415