SewAid Ba Fiji May 2917 – Report
Alacoque Welsh – Project Manager, Rotary E-club of Greater Sydney
Tina Latham- Training Manager – Rotary Club of Kincumber & Days for Girls Avoca.
Vera Liondas- Sewing Teacher – Rotary Club of Holroyd & Days for Girls Holroyd
Gay Grillmeier -Sewing Teacher& Days for Girls Gosford North
Karenne Norling –Sewing teacher -Rotary E-club of Greater Sydney
Jenny Fletcher- Sewing teacher –Days for girls Taree
Sandra and Tony Castley- Sewaid & Rotary E-club of Greater Sydney.
In this programme we taught 16 ladies from the Ba Women’s Community Forum how to sew Days for Girls Kits, gift items such a bags and purses, and some basic dressmaking.
The Forum has a very good facilities, in a modern building originally donated by a Japanese organisation. The large sewing room had 5 older domestic machines in poor condition, one working overlocker, and 5 high speed industrial machines of which almost none of the ladies could use. SewAid brought them 6 new domestic machines and 2 new overlockers and we were able to repair some of the existing machines. In additional we brought with us a large amount of sewing equipment such as cutting mats, rotary cutters etc. and heaps of fabric – which was kindly all funded by Alacoque to get them started.
Ba is a small town about 39 minutes East of Lautoka in Fiji. Fiji is an Island country in the South Pacific. It is popular holiday destination for people from Australian and New Zealand, and while there are a large number of 4 and 5 star Resorts, the basic population live at a low economic standard. While the minimum wage is officially FJ$5.00 (US$2.50) an hour, many of the women are paid much less than that. Some years ago there were a number of International clothing factories in Fiji, but today most all of them have left. However while the local people struggle to make ends meet, they are always smiling and friendly. The Ba ladies were a wonderful, group to work with, and very appreciative of the skills we taught them. However the pace of life is very slow – called Fiji time, and while the program was to start promptly at 9am Monday, many wandered in much later. But as we only had one week to teach them we soon introduced them to Sydney time and the teaching and progress moved along much quickly after that.
A lot was achieved in just 5 days, and at the end of the week, the ladies had made 30 complete Days for Girls kits and many more shield and liners, several different bags, including one attractive bags made entirely on the overlocker, purses and some dressmaking was started with emphasis on how to use commercial patterns. Gay spend a lot of her time teaching the ladies all about the overlockers, how to use them, and how to service them, While Tina concentrated on making sure they knew how to make the DFG kits correctly.
We were told originally that all the women chosen could sew, but actually many of them had little sewing knowledge or experience and that slowed us down a little, However it was a very successful week and we have left them with enough skills to become a DFG group or enterprise, and as well make some saleable items which are being introduced to the resort shops. At this stage we are expecting to make a follow up visit next year.
Good news is that they have already received an order for 100 DFG kits from an international charity at US$9,95 each and at that price they will be able to pay the sewers a reasonable fee, and have something left for the Forum.
A big thank you to all our wonderful volunteer teachers and to Alacoque our project manager, and to Hobbysew Australia and our other sponsors.