As a young girl in a refugee camp at the Thai-Burma border, Pa Ywel Paw begged her mother for a needle and thread so she could help by sewing together the scraps of material that fell on the floor from her mother’s sewing.

But the needles and thread were rare and precious; her mother relied upon them to make clothes for her children, and also to make clothes for others in the camp that she could sell to raise a little money.

When the family first arrived in Australia, Pa Ywel didn’t know the people or the language well – but what she did have was a strong work ethic and her sewing skills. From these was born her business ‘Too and Lou’, which is ‘Needle and Thread’ in the Karen dialect.

Once again, the needle and thread were helping her to survive and build a new life; and her Global Sisters team was helping her navigate the complicated process of setting up and running a business.

Pa Ywel now designs and produces hand-made bags that are sewn from textiles woven by Karen women in the border refugee camps. In addition to earning an income and making her family proud, she’s helping women who are facing the same circumstances she had to overcome.