Over the last few years, Bougainville Women’s Federation (BWF ) has been running sewing and cooking workshops in villages around Bougainville. BWF is committed to assisting the women of Bougainville to lead dignified lives, free of poverty. Workshops have been conducted across all regions including the Carterets. They have been conducted by a volunteer with Australian Volunteers International and Australian Business Volunteers – Nina Boydell.
The sewing workshops involve the preparation of patterns for school uniforms (girls and boys shorts, shirt and girls skirt), for women (skirt and shirt) and for men (shirt and cargo pants). The host group is left with a set of patterns and village groups can then use these patterns to make their own set. The workshops also cover training in how to construct garments. BWF recommends these workshops take place over a minimum of four days.
The cooking workshops are usually conducted over two days and can be tailored to the needs of the particular group. For example, workshops to assist groups catering for tourists have been conducted. Many different recipes can be demonstrated and practiced – eg bread making, pizza, salads, omelets, noodle dishes, fish pies, cakes, biscuits etc. There is no limit to the number of beautiful dishes that can be made with the fresh produce of Bougainville! The trainer has experience with using either an open fire and drum oven, or a gas stove.
More recently, there have been requests for BWF to conduct craft workshops for village women. Craft workshops cover knitting, crochet and embroidery and clear instructions are left with the groups so they can practice in their own time. Some groups are starting to make baby blankets, computer covers, embroidery on pillowslips, knitted hats and scarves etc. Once again, there is no end to the possibilities of things that can be made.
Finally, BWF is promoting the use of Feminine Hygiene Kits to provide dignity to women during their monthly cycle. The kits are economical and comfortable to use and can last for up to three years. BWF is hoping to be able to start supplying kits to women in Bougainville and is considering using the project as a fundraising initiative.
It has been very encouraging to see a number of women’s groups commencing small businesses in sewing and catering as a result of attending these workshops. We hope it will continue!