Sakila has been with the project for three years, since the very first day we opened the training centre she has been part of our journey. Recommended to us by the local Panchayat, Sakila lives very close by but has not been employed before so was initially nervous about entering a new environment. The first few weeks were quite difficult, the project was not yet in full swing so we were only inviting trainees to come for 2 – 3 days each week. Confidence has been a significant factor, feeling safe and secure has played and important part in building that.
As Sakila’s confidence and trust grew, her attendance increased to 4 days each week attending around 4 hours per day. Learning how to use a manual sewing machine was the first stage of the process and possibly the most difficult. It takes coordination and concentration to get the hang of using a manual machine, after 6 months of training the basic skills had been honed and it was time to move to an electric machine.
Initially there were many mistakes when using the electric machine, controlling the speed is the most challenging part of learning how to use these machines. Once Sukumar, the new trainer joined in March, all the students skills improved. The atmosphere in the project improved as everyone’s confidence grew, after almost a full year of training everyone was keen to start making some actual products.
We asked Sakila some questions that seemed alien to her but helped us glean a little insight in to her life – we had to paraphrase a little!
What do enjoy about being part of the Cocobagh project?
I enjoy being the one with most experience here, I am Amma (Mother) of the project, taking care of the new recruits and helping them to settle in. I love being independent and having the skills to earn my own money. I hope to become one of the best stitchers and to be able to teach other people one day.
How do you travel to the training centre?
Every day I walk, my home is very close by so it doesn’t take very long.
How has being at the project helped you?
Being paid to come and learn these skills allows my children to go to school. Without this, I cannot afford for my children to go to school because I need them to work. It is very difficult to find employment in my situation, now that I can earn enough to pay for shelter and food my children can go to school and improve their opportunities for the future.
Will you celebrate the Holi festival?
I don’t play with the colours usually but I enjoy seeing all the children playing.