At the marketplace in the Global Learning Fest, Beyond Social Services shared about their 'Sew We Can' initiative. This is an example of CLCP and SALT in Singapore.
Challenge due to the lockdown during the pandemic
Before the pandemic, Beyond had been supporting a group of women to earn through baking products. As women lost their livelihood after the pandemic, 'Sew can we' initiative was born and example of adapting to COVID crisis to sustainable format -not waiting for the government handouts. Non-Singaporean citizens are not able to access jobs they are on a long-term pass, and it is very difficult to find jobs. This helps them to get additional income through home-based work. The logo of the initiative was designed by the Women. “They are not weak, they are very strong. They are aware of their worth, and willing to work for it” - from Swathi, Beyond Social Services. Women are taking ownership and now want to organize themselves into a cooperative. "A strong bond emerged between the women who provided emotional support to each other", Irfah, Beyond Social Services. Family support is extremely important as it is home-based work- Joanne Yau, Beyond Social Services. Professionals trained the women. Beyond team also provided laptops to the children for online studying and food support so that mothers did not have to cook food.
- the project had its ups and downs, turns and twists. Language is a challenge as women are from multiple nationalities, which posed difficulties in communication. English was not easy for them.
- Some women were more skilled in sewing and better skilled, so they had to spend time transfer skills to other women not as experienced in sewing
- What mothers think is the fair wage for them
- There were a lot of drop-outs but those passionate continued and the group emerged organically
- Transfer of skills and knowledge within the women's group and enhancing each other's skills. In a very competitive environment in which professionals do not share 'trade secrets', here we find social capital augmented economic empowerment.
- Tried to reinvent from bakery before COVID and took to sewing." Great re-inventors ! Grab opportunity with both hands and build from that" mentioned Jan from Belgium. Both the women and Beyond staff turned the pandemic challenge into an opportunity. "Power of mothers...adapted to the challenge" remarked Wiwin
- Beyond has another project where women can cook and who provide culturally appropriate food to older people, larger families and those under quarantine. Beyond team encouraged the food project to 'Sew we can' project. Linking different projects appreciated Nabaraj.
- Different stakeholders have different roles in communities. Professionals were training, Beyond team was facilitating by fostering ownership and appreciating and listening to the communities. We cannot ignore the role of external stakeholders, but communities have to own the initiative.