We have been working with Hopanda Women’s Group in Western Freetown for three years. The group has twenty members, who brought themselves together to set up a support group. Some of the group members used to be stonebreakers doing hard labour in quarries to sell aggregate and gravel to the building industry. Some were selling illicit Chinese medicines on the streets just to help provide for their families. Some are single mothers taking care of their children alone
We have worked with the group to help them develop key income-generating skills in soapmaking, clothmaking (gara – tie & dye), tailoring and business support. They have done very well. We delivered the final support programme of business management training and gave them funding to undertake business ventures using the skills they have learnt. The funds will enable the women to take control of their activities by producing soap and gara, which they will sell directly to local retailers and to the public. Some are now trained tailors, while others are skilled at producing good-quality gara!
It is amazing that some of these women were once stonebreakers in quarries or selling illicit Chinese medicines on commission on the streets of Freetown. Now they are highly skilled in producing quality items (soap; gara – tie & dye) for sale using the skills they have learnt through our training programme.
In Central and Western Areas of Freetown, we have extended our work to include local apprenticeship providers for young, single mothers and those vulnerable to loitering.
We have provided local skills trainers with standard tools and encouraged them to take in apprentices.