We started our journey of upskilling women from disadvantaged backgrounds in 2017, with a view to providing them means to attain a livelihood. Displaced women face unique challenges and with this in mind, Skills3 programs are designed with respect and sensitivity to their current situation. We equip them with not only skills to earn a living but more importantly, the confidence with which to embrace bigger goals and step into the world of work and entrepreneurship. When one woman earns, the whole village wins.
Rawafed is an educational social initiative working with underprivileged youth in Sharjah. Along with providing informal education, it also trains young people in vocational skills. Part of Rawafed’s mission is to support low income, economically impacted Emirati, Baluchi and Bangladeshi young women who wanted to learn skills such as sewing, and develop these skills as a pathway towards economic independence.
RAWAFED appointed Skills3 to provide a fast-paced, result-driven sewing workshop to impact 100 women through a train-the trainor model. Skills3 initially trained 12 young women with the nominated trainor/production manager in July 2022. RAWAFED implemented our recommendation of engaging a manager to support the initial cohort of young women and ensure efficiency,minimal wasteage, and quality control. With this training, they gained enough skills to start producing for sale, in just three sessions !
On the UAE National Day 2022, they had enough products to showcase at the HSBC Headquarters independently, as part of HSBC’s National Day celebrations. For a project which was but four months old at that time, this is quite an achievement.
Skills3 continue to monitor the trainor in training more young women at RAWAFED and also procure their products for sale through our distribution channels.
Lotus Retal, is an informal school in Abu Dhabi providing basic literacy and numeracy skills for children of the guest communities from Syria, Chad, Yemen and Palestine under the protection of the UNHCR. UNHCR and Lotus Retal engaged Skills3 to train the mothers of the guest communities to achieve the technical sewing ability necessary for creating products for market to supplement their family income and allow the mothers to tackle the problem of insufficient funds needed to keep their children in mainstream schools.
The training program was sensitively structured around the women’s home lives. Each participant was provided with a sewing machine to use at home, a transport stipend to reach the training centre and meal/refreshments during the entire day sessions. These advantages ensured an attendance rate of 98% for each of our two batches of trainees.
As the training progressed, we saw the sparkle in their eyes and the squaring of their shoulders, as their stitching progressed from curves and zigzags to a straight line through the weeks. We felt the pride they felt when they handed in their finished products against an invoice and received a cash payment.
The most important part of our training program is that we have built in a revenue model so that the trainees can receive financial returns during the program and beyond. We procure the items they have stitched, after rigorous quality controls and sell them on their behalf. Through their products, we tell their stories and put a human face to the tragedies that are wrought by displacement of population due to conflict.
Even though the training has been concluded, the women continue to sew the products for us for sale and are in the process of coming up with new designs of their own. Now that’s what we call confidence and growth!
Everyone knows how far-reaching the impact of the Covid pandemic was on human beings, but do we stop to think of how the knock-on effects may even reach stray animals? Petooti is an organization involved in rescuing stray animals. They find injured animals and take them to vets for treatment. With the pandemic, their funding and consequently, their work, was affected.
Fortunately, human ingenuity shines through in times of crisis. Petooti embarked on a new revenue stream through Skills3 training furloughed Filipinas to sew fabric masks. At the height of the pandemic, Skills 3 deployed sewing machines, materials and fabric into the homes of the women and trained them through a combination of patterns, stage samples, zoom check-ins and whatsapp chats. The Filipinas received income, the masks helped the public in containing the pandemic and the profit went towards the treatment of injured animals. A win-win-win! The project resulted in creating over 6,000 face masks and generated 125,000dhs (34,000usd) towards reduction of the outstanding vet bills from the rescue, trap and neuter of strays by Petooti. With the total income of 35,000dhs (9,530 usd) the Filipina sewists were able cover their rent, food, and utilities despite being furloughed throughout the pandemic. Today, with the pandemic behind us, many of the Filipinas have returned to full-time employment, but some of them continue to sew in their free time and work on special projects for animal care for Petooti – a testament to their commitment for a good cause.
We do more than just sewing. Our creative skills for livelihood projects are co-designed
with users in response to their needs, to empower individuals and build strong,
inclusive and cohesive communities.
PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS LABOUR OFFICE
From 2017-2020, we partnered with Overseas Labour Office of the Philippines Consulate in Dubai to conduct a training program for the displaced and distressed Filipino female workers temporarily housed at the consulate compound awaiting repatriation. Our sewing, crochet and knitting program allowed the women to regain confidence and purpose, and restore their well-being while awaiting the conclusion of their labour contract disputes and repatriation back to the Philippines. The consulate issued certification of their skills training which was valuable for seeking employment in the Philippines. Through the pandemic, we carried on with zoom training and taught the women how to sew fabric face masks for themselves and the other ladies at the refuge centre. The program impacted 540 Filipina workers and a further 70 ladies through a continuing Train-the-Trainor model.
BAHARKA REGUGEE CAMP
Six years ago, we were appointed by Bring Hope Humanitarian Foundation (BHHF) to conduct a series of training workshops for the women of Baharka refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq. We conducted 14 workshops, training 24 women to sew bags and clothing, for sale as well for personal use. BHHF continued to encourage the women to keep sewing items for sale to earn revenue and use it towards the welfare of their families and children.
It is time the world stopped thinking of refugees living in camps as people who don’t produce and contribute to the society. They may be living on the fringes, but they didn’t choose that life. When empowered and enabled, they are capable of making different choices, such as filling their time with activities useful to themselves and others, laying the foundation for economic self-reliance and a brighter future for their families and children.
Inspired by our workshops, more women wanted to learn to sew and take steps on the road to financial self-reliance. Post Covid, we are in talks with BHHF to return to Baharka to rekindle the ‘Sewing for Hope’ training program.
SEW FOR SYRIA
The founders of Skills3 collaborated with Canaturk Organisation to teach Syrian widows at a refugee family centre in Gaziantep, Turkey. The programme focus was largely on its therapeutic value at restoring their well-being and helping them regain their confidence.
The women enjoyed creating clothes for their children and items for their home. The week long program culminated in a fashion show at the centre to display the results of the workshops.