Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Seamstress School: Recent Graduation

Editor's note: apologies for the lack of news on the blog. Our small administrative team has been swamped with several new programs and we have not been able to maintain this communication channel. We hope to keep it more current in the months ahead.

Our most recent news is that 19 women from one of our five seamstress business schools in India graduated on February 9th, after a 4-month training course. These women live in a slum area of a city in South India. They were so happy to receive their certificates and new sewing machines. For all of the participants, it was the first of any such achievement in their lives, so you can imagine their joy.

Our women's seamstress business program, which focuses on widows, is now in its 6th year of operation. Over 100 women have graduated from the course and are now running home-based businesses. The program has been very successful, to the point where we have scores of women on a wait-list to get into the program. Program update: The initiative started as an outreach to widows, but has now been expanded to include non-widows who are living below the poverty line. The training program has also been extended from 3 months to 4 months.

How does it work? After taking women through a 4-month course we then equip them with a sewing machine and basic supplies. This allows them to start a practical in-demand business that provides for their families. Our program also includes the incentive of a micro-credit program. The newly commissioned business owners pay back their equipment costs in affordable monthly installments. Of course if a certain participant is having a difficult time getting her business started, the payments can be paused without penalty. These payments are placed into a fund which is used to commission more widows into the program. It further empowers the widows to know that part of their work will involve helping future widows enter the program.

Below are photos from the recent graduation.

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