After the 2004 tsunami, as part of the Post Tsunami Health Care and Research Project, TEWFI social workers stepped in to help strengthen the existing Government women’s self-help groups which were at that point of time on the verge of disbanding. TEWFI social workers worked with the women to develop useful and practical savings schemes. These groups now continue to function and have become one of the main target groups for TEWFI. In the future, depending on the need more women’s groups may be formed, especially given the recent opening of the UNDP Women’s Centre.
In addition to nutritional and domestic violence awareness programs, a main focus for these vulnerable women and girls in the community has been giving them opportunities to develop both life skills, and vocational / trade skills. This is as important as giving them access to traditional local school facilities. Numerous non-working women stay at home during the day simply because of lack of skills and opportunities, but if given both, would willingly come forward to earn a living if they are trained in the requisite skills.
To address this concern, TEWFI has started various initiatives aimed at giving women and girls vocational training:
- Bag and small gift making: Women and girls were taught how to make these items using indigenous materials. The items can then be sold at the local markets for a profit. These programmes are ongoing.
- Auto rickshaw driving course: Typically, auto rickshaws in the local area are driven by males. TEWFI wanted to empower girls with the skills required to become auto drivers. Ten times in a month, eight young women attend training courses for auto rickshaw driving run by TEWFI community social workers.
- Toy, chain and simple jewellery making courses: These items are commonly seen in markets not only in the Kadapakkam area, but also in larger cities such as Chennai. Thus, one of TEWFI’s future projects is to teach local women how to make toys and simple jewellery.
- Phenyl production: TEWFI social workers are investigating initiatives for women to produce phenyl for cleaning purposes.
In addition, life skills initiatives aimed at women and girls include family planning (topics such as early pregnancy prevention, managing the number of children in the family, and in the future, early marriage prevention), and also financial management skills in the future.
While TEWFI has focused mainly on developing vocational skills for the vulnerable groups of women and girls, it is also paying attention to men and boys’ vocational training. Eventually, TEWFI plans to build a dedicated Vocational Training Centre which will provide opportunities to learn a range of vocational skills.
If you would like to help us in funding or setting up any of these important vocational training activities which will give men and women skills that will improve their lifestyles, please visit our donations page or contact us for more information.