Thursday, November 1, 2012

More women trained


We had some more requests from women who wanted to learn how to sew.  So we took in 3 for about 2-3 weeks. 

They recieved their level 1 certificates in the week we moved to our new premises, and even helped with all the packing and unpacking!


Here is Sinta congratulating Azina and Juli

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Both of these women have lovely natures, and I had to tell them I was unable to give them employment as we have not had enough work.  However both of them seemed to enjoy coming each day and have continued to do so.  So we have arranged for them to receive a machine after 2 months of “voluntary” work. 

New Premises!

When I arrived back in Timor earlier this year, the women all mentioned a few stories about people hearing about Bellekria and finding it very difficult to locate.  In fact, truthfully we were based in the worst location possible.  Think “down-the-end-of-a-one-way-street, past where the main suburb is, and then right down the back of the far side.   And add to that the only signage we had was an A4 poster on the door.

So yes, I could easily see that we needed to improve both our location and our signage.

Now I think anywhere it can be difficult moving location.  Finding somewhere that has a good building, good street frontage, good price etc, but here we also had to consider security, and family connections.

We drove around a bit and discussed where would be a good area etc.  It all seemed a bit difficult and started to drag on, as of course its just easier to stay where you are.  Then our landlord started making plans to renovate his home.  It turned out that his plans were more like a rebuilding rather than renovating.  He asked if we could find somewhere else for our sewing room.  Well that motivated us a bit :)  So we renewed our investigations, and found the brother of one of the sewers wanted us to rent part of his house. 12-DSCF2748 It was not far from our little village, but on the main road.  The room he showed us was very bright, although needing some love to make it look acceptable.  We asked all the women what they thought, if it was a good place, if it was a safe place.  One concern was that the son of this man had a history of damaging property while under the influence of alcohol.  We asked about a price, thinking that we can only really afford $50/month, and we had a sit down /meeting with him and his family one evening.  He wanted us to name the price, and we very tentatively and apologetically suggested $50.  His reply was that he had decided that day, that whatever we offered he would accept!  A very unusual method of bargaining here in Timor.  We were quite surprised and grateful.  It helped that he was related in someway to all the women in the sewing room. Its a small world here.


It took a few weeks to fix the room/s up. A wall moved, a change room built, painting, floor patching, steel mesh over the windows, and new electricity. But finally it was ready so, one Friday afternoon we started packing things into boxes.  It just happened that a cow was being delivered in a truck, and we could fill it up on its way back.  I didn't help with the actual move – the women arranged it all and unpacked everything themselves.

High Hopes & Disappointments


I mentioned earlier about some possible orders from a group called ETWA.  Sinta and the others stitched up some good samples.  The feedback was positive and I gave them some rough quotes for labour.  However, They have been struggling with some issues in their project and have put a hold on making new products.  Sad for them and for us!

And then I was put in touch with another group.  They raise funds to send “school bags” fitted out with stationary into 3rd world countries.  They had recently decided to start in Timor Leste.  What a great idea!  They asked for quotes on 2000, 5000 & 10,000 bags.  My spontaneous response was awesome! We can do that.  Later when I sat down and estimated the time it would take, I started to get a bit more grounded.  We would have 2-3 months, and to just source that much fabric may be difficult!  I would have to employ at least 5-6 full time women, possibly more, and seriously pump them out to make 10,000. 

I wrote to the organisation with some feedback regarding fabric choices and we raced around trying to get a decent quote from a printer.   In the end I sent off a reasonable quote, and was initially contacted by the representative saying our quote was the cheapest and seemed to be the best option.  However a week later, after he returned to the committee in Australia, he regretfully informed me that they had decided to get the bags produced in a different country…. So Timor loses out and we lose work opportunity. Sniff sniff.