Economic Empowerment of Tibetan Women
Observational Report on STITCHES OF TIBET
October 2011 to January 2012
Since October 2011, with major funding support from Horizon Foundation, Stitches of Tibet (SOT) has been running successfully with a new separate class room for English, Math, Tibetan language & Computing classes. English classes are held three times and computing classes are held twice every week. Tibetan and Math are taught respectively on 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month.
Most of the trainees except for one or two, do not have any prior experience of tailoring or of attending any school.
After a written and oral test in English, the women are divided into two levels. Level One- comprises those who do not have any knowledge of English. At SOT, they began their English classes with the alphabet, sentence formation and greetings. They have been great learners and they are all very enthusiastic to learn new things.
Level Two comprises trainees who have attended Basic English classes at an NGOs undertaking or they have some knowledge in basic English. At SOT, they are taught English lessons based on the Beginner Student’s Book (Oxford).
“ I used to feel shy speaking in English before but now I feel more confident. Sometimes, I speak in English with foreigners and with my fellow friends at SOT which helps me improve my conversational skill and also helps me build my confidence.” — Rinzin (28 years old)
“I am thankful to TWA for providing us with such a huge platform where we can learn stitching, English etc.. When I first joined SOT, I didn’t even know how to write my own name but after joining here I have learnt many new things from writing my own name, pronouncing the letters correctly and making traditional Tibetan dresses.” — Sonam Dolma (32 years old)
“ I have never been to a school before. Learning English has always been my interest since the time I came from Tibet. During the last 4-5 months that I’ve been in SOT, I learnt many new English words. I will work hard and I’m sure by the time I finish my 18 months training at SOT, I’ll be able to converse in English without any hesitation.” —Tashi Lhamo (26 years old)
Tailoring is the primary training given at SOT. The main objective of SOT is to make the trainees self reliant. Under the guidance of a tailoring teacher and an assistant teacher, the trainees are taught traditional Tibetan dresses (both men and women), western shirts etc. Once they finish their 18 months training at SOT, they will be well skilled to take orders from customers and earn their own living.
By now, the trainees can perfectly make or stitch a Tibetan blouse without any help from the teacher. They take orders and each trainee can make at least two blouses in a day’s time. They still feel they have a lot to learn. Since many of them have not used a sewing machine before, they think they have to improve their speed and match up with time. They are all excited to move to the next level which is stitching chupa (Tibetan traditional dress for women).
“I have used sewing machine when I was in Tibet to sew my own clothes. I did not have a proper knowledge in tailoring until I joined SOT. Now, whenever there is an order for blouses, I’m the one amongst other trainees who gets to make the ordered blouse and hopefully within the next few months, I’ll be perfect in chupa too.”— Khamo Kyi (35 years old)
“I’ve always been a very shy and reserved person. After joining SOT and meeting other trainees, I feel I’ve become more confident and friendly. I have also learnt many new things.”— Kunchok Tseten (31 years old)
Beginning February, the SOT students will begin their computer lessons and four state-of-the-art computer sets have been installed in their classroom and in our tri-annual report, we will report on this new phase in the SOT academy.