A training program was launched to provide skills that would generate supplementary income for the women in the village. The training sessions gave the Reach team an ideal opportunity to talk to the women and learn more about their families, in a relaxed and informal environment.
We started an extensive training on garment production and intricate beadwork using sequins, glass/wooden beads. Our aim was to train the women of Werellana to produce garments to a high standard where they could be sold locally in Colombo at an attractive price. The ladies were incentivised by being paid for each garment produced to exacting standards. The income they generated depended on their commitment to produce quality garments.
The garment training concluded by teaching the ladies how to cost each item and know how to make production financially viable. They were also taught the importance of adhering to strict quality controls for the final saleable product. The training aimed to pull production into a co-operative enterprise and develop team skills from production to sale.
In August 2005 three sewing machines were distributed by Project Reach to help improve the quality and production of garments.
The sewing project continues with focus shifting to producing children’s clothing, and accessories such as blankets, nappy holders etc, which are finished with various forms of beading and intricate embroidery.
Self Development Training Programme & Organic Farming
In conjunction with the garment workshops, we have commenced a “Self Development Training Programme” covering health, nutrition, beauty, herbal remedies, and other topics. A popular topic was expanding on the word “ASPIRE” which encouraged individuals to come up with targets they wanted to achieve by developing personal action plans. Targets varied from weight loss to opening a beauty shop, becoming a chef and being a businesswoman.
To diversify the training, Project Reach embarked on an agriculture programme, concentrating on organic growing methods. We organised training with an agricultural expert from Colombo who advised on best methods of growing vegetables on plots close to the sea. The salt air prevents some vegetables from growing successfully if the land is not properly prepared or sheltered. Our first sample garden was planted late 2007 and is still producing enough vegetables to feed a family twice a day.
A training programme producing recycled paper products was started this year. The aim was to train the group to produce different paper items with variations to each product for style, colour etc.
In August 2007, the International ICAP Conference took place in Sri Lanka focusing on HIV/AIDS Awareness in Pacific Asia. The event was attended by over 3,000 delegates from around the world and included a day when NGO’s could publicise their work by displaying & selling items produced by the people they work with. We secured a stand at this conference and were able to display products from both the clothing range and the paper project. Sales were very successful and we were able to generate a bonus for the women involved. Items sold included: gift bags, gift envelopes, gift cards, ornamental boxes along and also ladies tops. Business was brisk and nearly all the stock was sold in the first day.
An annual Christmas bazaar is hosted at the BMICH Centre in Colombo. This is a high profile event with good attendance. The success of the ICAP Conference gave us the impetus to work towards a stall for this event. The ladies produced a varied range of gift boxes, bottle bags and gift tags, all selling swiftly.