WOMEN'S SEWING CENTRES

Fiji

Solomon Islands

Vanuatu

Samoa

Papua New Guinea

Honiara, Solomon Islands
August 2018

Nelly

These two passionate young entrepreneurs are now planning on further increasing their sewing with more products such as handbags, Island dresses, shirts and floor mats. Their plan is to open a small retail shop where items can be sold, thereby providing income for the Women's Sewing Centre.

Reflections from the tailors:

Nelly:

I really enjoy creating, cutting and sewing products. I feel really good when I am doing these activities. To make our sewing more effective, it would be lovely to get a machine that can do button holes. It is our vision to train more women to sew products and so we can make more products and sell these in our shop. It would be good to open up our own WFWP shop.

 

Catharine:

I really enjoy sewing and it is my aim to improve my sewing to a high standard. It would be nice to be able to create new designs and dressmaking patterns. I would appreciate attending a workshop on pattern designing so that I can broaden my knowledge and skills and sew better quality products. I am really enjoying my time sewing for WFWP SI and for the New Hope Academy.

Catharine

Nelly and Catharine together with the WFWP SI President (Selina) and WFWP SI Secretary (Monica), displaying the products they sew - school uniforms and clothing hanger bags 

Clothing hanger bags ready for sale - Large (SBD50), Medium (SBD30) and small (SBD25)

The WFWP Solomon Islands is privileged to have two wonderful women who are dedicating themselves to keep the Women's Sewing Centre operating effectively. 

With the help of these women, the following achievements have been made possible:

  • During July, 50 sets of uniforms for students were produced in response to a request from the New Hope Academy.

  • During August and September, sets of uniforms for 2019 will be produced. Altogether, it is planned to produce 100 shirts, 100 pairs of trousers and 100 dresses.

  • To increase profits, new products have been designed and manufactured. The new products are different sized clothing hanger bags. So far, 7 large bags, 4 medium bags and 2 small bags have been produced. While the larger bags will be sold for SBD 50, the medium size bags will be retailed at SBD 30 and the small bags for SBD 25.

Imaelone Village, West Tanna, Vanuatu

Written by Brenda Okada during a 'Working Holiday' to Vanuatu to deliver the sewing machines. 

 

In 2009 manual sewing machines were donated by WFWP Australia to the ladies in Imaelone Village, Western Tanna.  The women used them while sitting on mats on the floor of their women's centre.  Recently, Ingleburn High School in Sydney upgraded their sewing room machines and graciously donated their used machines to WFWP Sydney, through contact via our National website our state president, Aila Willitts. They were then transported to Vanuatu.  FFWPU missionary/New Village Movement co-ordinator Rev Jong Dueg Yoo was then able to arrange for electricity to be connected to the community centre in the village. With our arrival a ceremony was held to officially present the seven machines to Tess, the wife of the Taffeta Province President, Nakau Natuman, on behalf of the village.

Arriving in Imaelone Village and presenting the sewing machines. 

Brenda Okada and her daughter Celine are in the 2nd row.

There was great excitement as men brought tables from homes in the village to be used as work tables. Women quickly covered them with colourful clothes, the machines unboxed, put in place and plugged in.  Celine began with the basics, filling the bobbin. The sound of the bobbin filling caused shrieks of delight to explode from all the women.  Threading the machine correctly was a vey serious affair and then came the time to sew, again shrieks of delight and wonder at the speed of the action. Men stood and wandered around in the background, quite curious and a little in awe of what their women were experiencing.

Excitment during the 1st sewing class.

Everyone was very eager to have their turn at this new-fangled machine.  Many women proved to be quite adept and soon the sound of the racing machines filled the air as one by one they were taken over.  Brightly coloured fabrics seemed to suddenly appear from nowhere, as some women rushed home and returned with eyes wide with determination and intention of sewing new curtains, new dresses and new tablecloths.  There seemed to be no stopping them.  

 

Celine and I are both collectors of fabric and knitting/crochet yarns, so we took along two large bags full to share with the women as well.  For those not at a machine we began to teach them to crochet, suggesting that they start with simple squares, recommending them as good cleaning cloths.  When we returned the next day great progress had been made with the crocheting but cleaning cloths were not the desired end product. Everyone wanted a bag. 

On the first day we held a four hour session before packing up for the day.  The following day we held a six hour session interspersed by lunch which had been prepared by the women. The bag of fabrics and notions was unpacked on this day. The women were initially hesitant to investigate but quietly and surely each piece of fabric was taken by the end of our session with skirts, cushion covers, shirts and curtains, all in the process of being made. Embroidery settings where shown to one lady who sewed and sewed until unfortunately her machine burnt out.

It was a wonderful experience for everyone. To provide an activity for women to gather together and be productive is a wonderful thing.  While caring for their babies, toddlers and small children, they can create items for their families, for gifts or for sale.  To hear the sound of women chattering and laughing as sewing machines buzzed and children played and cried in the background was truly a joyous experience.  Even the local dogs gathered around us and one puppy slept while resting its head on a skein of yarn.

 

For more information and how to support, please contact us. 

WFWP Vanuatu women leaders Port Vila, Vanuatu 

Lenakel Village, West Tanna, Vanuatu

The Vanuatu Women’s Centre was built in 2003 under the guidance of Yellow Ruth and now with the support of Annie. Throughout the past 30 years, Yellow Ruth has travelled on foot throughout Tanna Island; connecting to the women of the area serving their needs and inviting them to participate in the cooperative so that items can be purchased affordably by the village women. 

The front of the building runs as a women’s co-operative called the ‘Cooperative Mama Foundation’ and the back meeting room was built through funds donated by WFWP Australia.   The 41 women in the cooperative make mats and clothing using the sewing machines donated through WFWP Australia. Women of the area also receive management training on how to start businesses.    

 

During a visit to the Women’s Centre in December, 2013, Anne Bellavance (WFWP Australia president) was able to show and explain some of the service projects and activities of WFWP International, as well as the service projects and activities supported by the WFWP Australia chapter. Yellow Ruth and her committee discussed their goals for the Women’s Centre and how they support women of the area. 

 

For more information and how to support, please contact us.

Articles for sale.

Sewing classes.

Sewing articles for sale

WFWP meeting – Island style

Anne Bellavance (WFWP Australia president) welcomed by women of the ‘Cooperative Mama Foundation’

Opening of the Vanuatu Women's Centre in 2003.

Aila Willitts is in the back row, centre.

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