Our vocational training program for women, the KIRF Sewing Centre located at the Shekhwara Village School is located in rural Bihar in India. The Sewing Centre’s longtime teacher serves as both a mentor, confidant and sewing instructor for students: local young teenage girls and women who walk over to the school from their rural homes near Bodhgaya in Bihar, India. The Sewing Centre afternoon classes are held on campus at the Shekhwara Village School. Sewing skills are especially valued in this area where many families struggle to get enough food to eat much less “extra” cash for things such as clothing, mobile phones, transportation, housing materials and medical care. There is no electricity or indoor plumbing in these rural villages. Distances are traveled by foot by most.
The KIRF Sewing Centre was founded and first funded by the Kirwin International Relief Foundation in 2009 with a modest investment that paid for several non-electric sewing machines, textiles, supplies and a stipend for a local professional seamstress to instruct the young women. We have been told that this program is extremely popular with local families because it teaches these young women how to earn valuable cash by sewing in this cash-poor rural economy of mostly rice farms with small family plots for growing food. In a culture where “good marriages” require that a girl’s parents to either pay their in-laws a generous dowry or provide them with a bride who can earn an income, the vocational training is a great asset for the local young women. It gives them an opportunity to have a better marriage and better life by being able to help provide more food and resources for their families.
Here are some highlights about the KIRF Sewing Centre from last week’s report from the school’s administrator:
- About 15 to 20 students are attending these sewing and tailoring classes every day
- The girls who are attending the sewing center classes are uneducated and say they need to earn money to take care of their families
- The sewing center’s program has attracted new students from nearby villages recently, but it does not have enough resources to purchase sewing supplies and textiles for everyone who wants to attend
- Some senior girls who have completed their one year sewing certificate are continuing to come to help teach the new students at the Sewing Center
- Due to a shortage of supplies, some sewing students have brought their own cloth to use to learn how to sew in class
- KIRF India continues to maintain the sewing machines, provide some supplies, and pay the instructor
- The sewing teacher is well-liked and reliable and she comes to work each day to teach her students
- Some of the senior girls who have completed their one year sewing certificate are now earning an income for their families by sewing
The sewing center is providing a popular and valuable service that is really changing lives right now. This program is made possible by donations made to the “Shekhwara India Project”of the Kirwin International Relief Foundation (KIRF).
If you would like to help some young women who are living in poverty to provide for their families so they have a better future, please consider making a donation to our “Shekhwara India Project” at the website of the Kirwin International Relief Foundation: KIRFaid.org
It feels good to help a young woman without an education and living in poverty become a valued wage earner and provide for her children so that they can have a better future. Below are some photos taken of the students at the KIRF Sewing Center last week (Jan 10, 2014).