Care and Share is another one of our potential new organizations. I met them through a lady named Betty, whom I have known since I started traveling here 3 years ago. Her brother, Robert, runs C&S in the village where he grew up. They have a HUGE group of feisty women, whose energy is contagious. I went with Rini on Tuesday to visit them, see what is going on, and to ask about what direction they would like to go. I am excited about working with them because of the successes they have already had on a very small level in their group.
They have been running a successful program called the “Bread Basket”, in which they bake small cakes called “Queen cakes” and sell them locally. They have 4-6 women cook 2 days per week and then have a man who takes their cakes around to sell. Although I knew they were doing this, I had no idea just how much revenue it is actually bringing in. Once we crunched some numbers, we realized they are bringing in potentially maybe $50/week, after expenses….this is HUGE!!! Rini is working with them specifically on writing a proposal for how they can improve and expand this program with so much potential, and how the profits can be put directly into other programs, like a sewing/tailoring program, which will eventually be able to do the same thing.
As far as sewing and tailoring, they are at the VERY beginning. I am excited to be able to work with them from initial stages of development for this program, as every other program we have supported has been running with a teacher already for at least a year or so. In this case, they were given 2 machines, but absolutely no instructions on how to use them. Thankfully they did not do anything to damage them, but they have been sitting for a few months waiting until they can figure out what’s next. They were convinced that they were broken and needed fixing by a repair man because no one could get the pedals moving. So, I went with them, set them up and tried them out. Come to find out, on one the pedal simply needed oiling and then it was off and running. And, the other one’s leather string which runs the wheels was too short. So, once that is fixed, it will be fine too. I will be returning a week from Tuesday to do a seminar on machine care, set-up, and basic skills so they can not only be sure to protect their valuable investments, but also start to practice the basic skills they need for sewing. We made a plan over the next 5 months of how to identify 5-10 strong, capable women who we will focus on becoming the teachers for the other women. I am excited to see what happens over these next months.
Written by Tara Hawks, Fount of Mercy's Vocational Development Director