Friday, November 29, 2013

Production and a bit of reflection on development...

Mass production!

The women attended the sessions excitably clutching their paper mache products that they had made at home. They had been very creative and had made bowls, plates and pots. We asked the women to make paper mache beads, which could be painted and used for the jewellery, and they brought A LOT! Kabeela was transformed into a workshop with different stations, and the women ended up making mass produce of jewellery to sell.
Their abilities to make good quality products have greatly improved during our time at Kabeela, which is extremely rewarding to see. The women have truly inspired us; they are always welcoming and put so much effort into the activities. They are keen to learn new skills and always go away and practice what they have learnt. We are excited to have produced so many products to sell at the cultural event!

Outreach work…

Unfortunately the theatre project was cancelled this week, and has been rearranged for next week.

This week we have also worked on preparing for the HIV workshop that will take place in Guilongou next Monday, to commemorate international AIDS day. The workshop will involve an interactive presentation, including quizzes on the information provided, and then a distribution of brochures and condoms.

A bit of reflection…

So what is development? As we come to the end of our three month placement, we have realised how much our views on development have changed. Most of us started off idealists…but the practicalities of daily life here, and seeing the obstacles that the women face to helping themselves, very quickly brought us back to reality.

When the women do not attend the sessions, it is usually because of how hectic their lives already are – they simply don’t have time. They work in the fields on subsistence farming from 5am to the early afternoon, then come home to look after their families, cleaning, and cooking. It seems therefore that development needs to be tailored to different groups in the community, according to how that particular community functions. Kabeela helps the women to make an income, and in turn gain respect from the male counterparts of their community. It provides a forum for them to express themselves. But it is impossible for income generating activities to be their main priority, because it is simply accepted that this is the role of men and therefore the women cannot escape their domestic roles. To really help the women in the long term, we need to change the broader views in society…and the primary target are the men who control so many aspects of the lives of their wife and children. In spite of the outreach work we do, this will definitely take time and hopefully be achieved through the next generation.

However there are ways in which women could and should help themselves. Often when opportunities are presented to some women, for example to make money out of something they are already doing, they do not always take these up. But maybe these women are just happy how things are; after all, who are we to define development for them?

Some of the new necklaces made with the papier maché technique

Women making papier maché calabashes

New bracelets

Female team members posing before theatre performance

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