Teaching how to fish: Empowering women

Published: October 24, 2011
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Training Centre gives women a chance to earn for their families.

Training Centre gives women a chance to earn for their families.

KARACHI: Most of the residents of Jiwani Heights, at the end of Suparco Road, moved here from Garden and Soldier Bazaar because of financial constraints.

The rent here is as low as Rs2,000 to Rs2,500 for an apartment.

“This area is far from the economic hub. Although the accommodation is relatively bearable, there are hardly any means of income, particularly for women who want to support their families,” said Jameela Barkat, a mother of four, out of which two are mentally challenged.

But, this changed last month, on September 22, when a man named Jalal Sultan opened Jiwani Heights Training Centre. The institute teaches women stitching, embroidery and fashion design at a cost of Rs300 per month. It works under Sultan’s NGO, The Foundation for a Better Life. Its first batch had 30 women, 22 from Jiwani Heights and eight from the Ali Complex, situated right across. A formal opening was held on Sunday morning inside the apartment building when the women from its first batch could stitch a complete outfit from scratch. The first woman judge of a high court in Pakistan, retd Justice Majida Razvi was the chief guest.

Dilshad Hussain, 23, was in high spirits. ‘Only a month back, I didn’t even know how to operate a sewing machine,” she exclaimed. “But now I can stitch a complete suit.”

However, Sultan has big plans. His organisation wants to sell the hand-made outfits made by the women to local and international market. According to him they will fetch from $200 to $300 per outfit. “It will raise the incomes of the families involved,” said Sultan.  “We also plan to hire them, and pay Rs15,000 to Rs20,000 according to their skills and labour.”

He said that the initial profits will be used to make the training centre financially independent. Then we will set up four more training centres in other parts of the city. “We plan to do all of this in the next two years,” Sultan said. “The mandate to alleviate poverty for 100 families per year will be achievable.”

Sultan said that initially he tried to help the families by giving them loans of Rs20,000 to Rs25,000, but most of the time the people disappeared or refused to pay back. “Now with this project, I’m teaching them how to fish.”

Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2011.

 

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