When Sarah Aulie travelled to India in her mid-20s, she went seeking direction and clarity. Like so many of her post-college peers, she wasn't sure what path her life should take. While she was in India, though, a series of unplanned events unfolded–experiences that changed the course of her life and the lives of women in India and Bangladesh.
One of those events was visiting a government home for at-risk girls in Calcutta, many of whom had been victims of human trafficking, while others had recently come out of prostitution. That visit gave Sarah a firsthand glimpse into the pain and injustice of human trafficking. As she walked the streets of Calcutta, she wondered why God had brought these strong yet hurting women into her life. Above the bustling din, the only voice she heard was God's—his unmistakable call to do something to help these girls.
At the same time God was opening her eyes to the plight of women in India and Bangladesh, Sarah was also learning about the folkloric tradition of kantha quilting. In kantha quilting, the material from the discarded saris of the rich is used by the poor to make quilts. Drawn to this practical and artful craft, Sarah sensed there would be a market in the U.S. for these beautiful blankets. And this would be a way to provide jobs for her precious new friends. And these jobs would provide an alternative to returning to prostitution after they left the government home when they turned 18.
God was also moving in the heart of Robin Seyfert, a woman who would become Sarah's ministry and business partner in Hand & Cloth. Robin had been working for a relief and development organization in Bangladesh for several years. Robin daily bore witness to the exploitation of women in Bangladesh and felt the call to start a business in Bangladesh where Biblical values could be lived out in the workplace. This year in 2011, Hand & Cloth opened its doors for business in Bangladesh, where 14 women now work each day in dignity and hope.
"God gave me a piece of his heart on this," Sarah says. Today, that piece of God's heart is being woven into every quilt that is created by Hand & Cloth, the social enterprise ministry Sarah founded that provides a living wage and a loving community to women in Bangladesh who are at-risk or have survived prostitution or trafficking.
Sarah received support from her local church to help her get Hand & Cloth off the ground. Prayer was the main catalyst that moved her from awareness to action, and prayer is what continues to propel Hand & Cloth to new levels.