Post by Arun Aryal with content provided by Rukmini Foundation Nepal Team
The tailoring process starts with the measurement, proceeds toward fabric selection and design, and ends with fitting. In today’s blog, I describe how a tailoring program was an excellent fit for our foundation.
The first step in the tailoring process is taking the measurement. Similarly, when the foundation offers a program, we also take careful measurements. What should we offer? Who would be interested in the program etc.? We have been laying a foundation for the Moms Club members so that they can engage in income-generating activities to support themselves. We started with a literacy program for women. Other programs include health and wellness programs where the moms club stitched sanitary pads.
After several discussions with the women’s group, they showed interest in tailoring training. We organized intensive training for interested women from different communities. The program was coordinated with Shikharapur Community Learning Center and the Foundation. This project was initiated as a special project of the Global G.L.O.W. to make reusable sanitary pads essential for the menstrual health of girls and women in rural areas. More importantly, this training will lead to an income-generating profession for the local women giving them financial independence.
The second step is the selection of fabric and design. As for the program, it is designed for Moms to gain real empowerment. We brought an expert trainer to begin the training and provided them with all the necessary materials. The group started learning the basics of sewing and gradually learned to make simple women’s clothing – blouses, petticoats, house gowns, Kurta suruwal, etc. Surprisingly, some participants were such quick learners that the trainer was very impressed with their progress. She even suggested that the group could start making a living from tailoring. The group got inspired by that encouragement and started thinking along those lines.
Fit and Finish
Being a professional tailor is not just stitching a cloth but understanding the clothes are a custom fit for their client. Similarly, the fit and finish of a particular program for the foundation involves whether these programs are suitable (customizable, sustainable) for our community. Although the group was very excited to open their own business, they needed to consider much more than just sewing skills. They needed a place to run the shop, money, machinery, and clients. Most importantly, they must also overcome the bureaucratic hurdles in registering a business. It is challenging to start a business alone. So, they are thinking of working together in a group, and the Nepal Team is committed to helping them until they can run independently.
Girls of Kalidevi Basic School get their uniforms from Yog Mahila Silai Samuha
Group photo with the students of Indrayani Basic School
While the moms club finished tailoring uniforms for the students, the program itself is far from done. This program is evolving to meet the needs of newly skilled moms. The foundation is helping to register the business, finding the maker and educating moms on the challenges ahead.
Registering the Business
Our Nepal Team is helping the group register a business for the women so they can apply for loans to run the business. The team has been named Yog Mahila Silai Samuha (YMSS). The registration process is in motion and must undergo various bureaucratic hurdles. It may take some time, but the group is already working together, learning new marketable skills. Our team has helped them find a space.
All newcomers in business need some helping hand initially, and our team is doing just that. Our team identified a few schools with children without proper uniforms. In addition, the team decided to provide a set of uniforms made by YMSS, allowing the group to refine their skills and help the children to get new outfits. Last month they produced uniforms for the boys and girls of Kalidevi Basic school and Indrayani Basic school. School children were very happy to get new uniforms, and YMSS felt proud for being able to make school uniforms in a short time. The group has hardly made any money, but they have already shown generosity by making dresses for free for those who can’t afford them. This is quite remarkable.
YMSS has done exceptionally well so far. But, it still has to overcome the hurdles of finding markets and making it financially viable. But for now, to keep the group engaged and refining their skills, we asked them to make uniforms for all the girls in our program. Last week, a program was organized by our team where all our Bahinis came to get their measurements taken for uniforms. It is incredible to see the team progressing in just a few months, from learning the basics of tailoring and making sanitary pads to making school uniforms. We firmly believe that this program will become a pathway to economic empowerment for the women in the community.
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