Sewing their way to success

Tailoring and embroidery is the most popular skill development programme for girls and women at CRS centres. Courses run every year from April through to March. On 17th March, 125 students from six different CRS centres in Kolkata gathered together in the portico of St Paul’s Cathedral for their end of year evaluation. Over four hours, the students had to complete a series of tasks to demonstrate skills they had learned during their course. This included embroidering a flower; demonstrating hemming, darning, and picot stitch along the edge of cloth; and measuring, cutting and stitching a shirt and a bag. An external evaluator from a government training institution reviewed the practical work completed on the day, as well as the portfolios of work completed throughout the year. The students were presented with their results and a certificate of completion by senior representatives from Larsen & Toubro, the company providing support for part of women’s empowerment programme.

High quality fashion

Since 1996 CRS has run a women’s empowerment programme in Pally Mangal, a neighbourhood in Tollygunge, south Kolkata. Training is available for women in tailoring and embroidery. Having completed their courses, women are encouraged to form self-help groups and then use their new skills to set up small business enterprises. Ten self-help group members received a boost on 8th February when CRS arranged a special training session led by a fashion designer from the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Kolkata.  With the focus on “quality products” the women learned how to improve the quality and finish of the items that they make. This will hopefully enable them to sell their tailored clothing at a higher price and boost their income.

Womens’ products on sale at fete

St Paul’s Cathedral grounds hosted the annual Diocesan Education Mission Fete on 5th December. Kolkata schools under the administration of the Church of North India put up stalls some offering mouth-watering snacks, others selling goods and gifts; there were also fun games to take part in. The proceeds of the fete are for the benefit of vernacular schools in the Diocese. CRS had a stall which displayed products for sale made by underprivileged women as part of the Empowerment programme. As usual, there was a range of beautiful handmade items such as embroidered tablecloths and handkerchiefs, clothing and bags, pickles and spices.

A carnival atmosphere … Part 2

Products made by women from CRS’s empowerment programme were on display at the St Paul’s Cathedral Grand Carnival on 7th November. The popular annual event held in the cathedral grounds includes produce stalls, refreshments, games and entertainment for all ages. On display at this year’s carnival were beautifully embroidered clothing, tablecloths and handkerchiefs, batik bags, crochet work, greetings cards, edible produce such as jam and sweets, and much more. All these were made by underprivileged women from Kolkata’s slums who have received skills training from CRS. On completion of their courses they can make high quality products for sale which helps to generate an income for their families.

New partnership to train women

A group of underprivileged women living in Pally Mangal in south Kolkata have the opportunity to learn new a skill and earn an income. St Xavier’s College, a Roman Catholic institution in Kolkata, runs a project called Enactus which supports livelihood programmes for slum women. They have identified CRS as suitable partner organisation and started a new initiative. Undergraduate students from the college are training women to paint clay pots with attractive and colourful designs which can then be sold on the open market. A group of five young women from Pally Mangal have been selected for this training and are already showing great potential.