A glimpse into skills training - felt making!

One of the absolute joys in working alongside disadvantaged communities around the world is partnering with them and seeing the amazing ways in which they develop, grow and improve their livelihoods. Indeed, this is something which we as Seven Women get to see and share about constantly, as the incredible journey of Seven Women at the EPSA Centre in Nepal continues to unfold.

In particular, we would love to share these recent photos of a new training workshop that gives you just a glimpse into the lives of those women (and occasionally men) that come to the centre to learn invaluable skills. It shows us the faces behind the work that we do. Most profoundly, it captures the distance between our involvement in the work half a world away in a way that brings us uniquely close together.

These pictures portray not just a group of women learning how to sew, but it is the coming together of beautiful individuals who are hard-working, determined and patient, to help each other climb beyond their circumstances of poverty and/or disability so that they can achieve something great. They are about to start their training on felt making and producing our awesome range of felt products. The process of felt making is surprisingly rigorous, with lots of step-by-step stages to dye, wash, cut and sew the pieces. And I'm sure it's not as easy as it sounds!

Most powerfully, the testament of the power and influence of the Centre is evident in the reality that many of these felt training workshops are actually organised and led by two of the initial seven women who Steph met so many years ago in Nepal making soaps and candles. These two particular women are Salina and Kumari - and it is now their job to teach newcomers to EPSA in this specific skill, as it is such an easily gained, transferable skill and it will enable the members to create income. The fact that Salina and Kumari, among others, are now involved in managing the EPSA centre and workshop training is so beautiful and reminds of the way fair trade can empower people to improve.

For as I sit here writing and reflecting, I recall Steph once telling me that when she first met the seven women all those years ago, she had asked them what they wanted to, what their vision for the future was. Humbly, they desired to help other people, who had disabilities like them, to have the chance to learn and work and improve their circumstances. There was no sense of self or survival of the fittest, but simply of free joy, passion and generosity, to want everyone to be a part of their success story.    

One of the women, Sangita, recently commented on the felt training with a new group of women because it was so exciting and all the women are "very happy with (their) new skill". Wow, what a great project to be a part of - great cause, great implementation, great effectiveness, great change!

This is a picture of Jirel and her son. She is one of the women beginning our new felt making training workshop. This may well be able to contribute turning her life upside down!

If you would like to be a part of this life-transforming project, have a look at our online store, where you can browse and purchase our broad range of felt products, such as puppets, bags and purses. Your purchase will help support our skills training, and women just like Sangita and Jirel.

~ Marissa, Seven Women Sydney