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Sewing a future Punakha
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Sewing a future

Every morning, Dorji Yangzom, 19, sits at her sewing machine transforming traditional weaves into curtains and bags. After the training, which ends next month, Dorji Yangzom plans to open a gift shop in her village in Merak, Trashigang.

Her Majesty Ashi Tshering Pem Wangchuck at the exhibition

With deft hands, she sews colourful borders and designs on the curtains and bags. She also makes cushion covers, artificial flowers, wall decorations, key chains and dolls.

Dorji Yangzom is among the 20 Class X graduate girls who are undergoing a training course at the Bhutan Souvenir Production and Training Centre in Punakha, which was opened by the Youth Development Fund (YDF) last year.

Her Majesty Ashi Tshering Pem Wangchuck

Sanjey Doya from Samtse harbours a similar dream so that she can 'earn money to support her parents' while Samten Lhamo wants to share her skills with the other girls in her village.

According to YDF instructor Nongyao, the training programme was divided into two semesters.

In the first semester, the trainees were taught the basics in cutting, pasting and stitching and machine operation.

In the second semester, the girls were trained to produce refined and quality commercial products.

"We expect our trainees to refine their skills and use them in their own communities," said Nongyao, adding that the raw materials like textiles, wood, straw, cotton, paper and plastic, which were needed to produce the souvenirs, were easily available.

The souvenirs produced by the trainees in their communities could also be sent to the centre for quality assurance and marketing, according to the instructor.

YDF's Dorji Ohm who coordinates the project said that the project was started for disadvantaged girls who could not qualify for further studies.

"The project will provide the girls the opportunity to seek jobs or be entrepreneurs themselves instead of marrying and becoming socially dependent," she said.

"They can now go back and not only shoulder the responsibility of being a mother but also economically support the family," said the coordinator, adding that the trend could also help, to an extent, curb rural-urban migration.

While the graduates will be encouraged to return to their communities and form cooperatives, the 10 best trainees will be employed by the centre.

Meanwhile, souvenirs produced by the girls through the course of their training were exhibited on March 7 at the centre.

The exhibition was inaugurated by YDF president Her Majesty Ashi Tshering Pem.

This article was contributed by Kesang Dema in Punakha, KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper 2006
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