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“I wanted to help my parents but didn’t know how to go about it”, said Naila while working immaculately on a beautiful carpet on loom. “We were poor and were heavily into debt. Then I started attending the center and lending a helping hand”, she added.
I met Naila during a visit to a training center in a less-developed village of Southern Punjab where women were acquiring carpet weaving skills and were paid cash for their work to support their families. Their products were sold in the market and the women received market-competitive wages.
Some twenty women (most of them young) were keenly working in the center. “A majority of them used to work as housemaids, a low-paid job. Also they had to cover long distances on foot to reach the houses in which they were employed. They are happy to learn a skill which they could utilize even by setting up their own loom at home,” their Supervisor told me. When a female joins the center, she's on probation for a week where her attention to detail, keenness to learn and diligence are assessed. After that, she starts getting paid in addition to regular training.
Rashida, 52, has been working in the center since the program started. “After my husband died, I had to raise the children on my own. I faced a lot of difficulties since I didn’t have any skills. Then this center opened and I started learning new skills,” she said her face beaming. Rashida’s eldest daughter is in 10th grade now and she believes that her training has contributed in making her independent.
Everything in the center filled me with a deep sense of pride. My visit to the center showed me that nothing is impossible if one is resolute enough. And that being educated is not the only solution. Teaching people new skills can also help weave dreams into reality...