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Monday, April 29, 2013

Free Classes Program

In this blog, we hear from Somit Mat about the Sewing Classes and the graduate livelihood projects.

Hello everyone, my name is Somit. I am originally from Kompong Thom province, Siem Reap’s neighboring province on the way to Phnom Penh. I moved to Siem Reap in 2005 to continue my studies at university. I am JWOC’s Free Classes Program Manager, and I have been working for JWOC since late 2009. I was also a scholarship student at JWOC, and I volunteered in the Clean Water Program and the Free Classes Program. Before being a Program Manager, I was a graduate intern for one year and then I was promoted to be the Program Manager in October 2010. 

I really love working with JWOC’s Free Classes Program. My team is fantastic. They are very enthusiastic about their work and volunteering. They work very hard to provide the services we have to students and other beneficiaries from Siem Reap town and the surrounding districts. What is more, JWOC’s team is helpful and cooperative.

The Free Classes Program has six different projects within it; English for Children and Adults Classes, Computer Classes, Art Class, a Children and Young Adults Library, Under 8’s Classes and Sewing Classes. Today, I am going to tell you about the Sewing Classes and what is currently happening on our latest course. The Sewing Classes provide two sewing courses; Basic Sewing and Sewing for Livelihood.  They both run for 16 weeks and are open to women and men who want to gain some practical skills to better their lives and economic situation. Most of our students are women, and we see this as a good chance for them to learn sewing skills to enter the workforce.

I have recently become more involved in the Sewing Classes. Previously, it was the role of the Education and Volunteer Manager, but now I have swapped to manage the sewing classes which is an exciting opportunity for me. I have taken responsibility for this class since January 2013 and so far I really enjoy working on this project a lot because I have a great team to work with.
 
Mala and Sareom coordinate and teach the Sewing Classes

Saroem, our Seamstress, and Mala, our Sewing Coordinator, are very helpful and reliable. Without them we could not run the classes. As some of you know, Saroem has been with JWOC since 2009. She is a skillful seamstress and she teaches her classes carefully. All students really enjoy learning with her. Saroem has designed the courses and even written a basic sewing textbook for students to be able to extend their reading time and practice techniques at home. Mala is also an important person in the Sewing Classes. She coordinates everything for the class; for example, she follows up students’ attendance, takes photos, writes reports, looks after all sewing materials and machines, advertises for new students, interviewing new students and plenty more! She is also responsible for teaching English vocabulary for sewing and basic terms for customer service for 30 minutes in each class. They both work very hard, and they are very passionate about the work they are doing for their students.

Current students learned how to make a blouse in the first few weeks

Talking about the current Beginning Sewing course, there are 12 students learning with Saroem and Mala. They are in week 13 and they will finish their course soon. On April 8th we took a fun trip to the markets in the town to learn more about what is going on in the current sewing market. The trip was really successful and we want to do more of them in the future.

Sareom and students talk to a tailor about quality of work in the market


Maly, who is a current sewing student
Maly Chaoyin, one of the current students, told me that she has learned a lot in this class. She started at the beginning with very low skills, but now she can sew very well, both by hand and by machine, and she can make shirts, school boys and girls shirts, shorts and women skirts, and she will learn to make trousers very soon. Lastly she added that she really enjoys learning in the class very much because the classmates are friendly and the teachers are especially helpful and reliable.

Apart from working with the class, we are now making a very huge number of uniforms for Helping Hands Cambodia. Helping Hands is an NGO which presently works in a number of villages in the Commune of Doun Keo located between 25 and 40 kilometers from Siem Reap town. In order to help generate incomes for local people, JWOC works with Helping Hands each year to make those uniforms. Last year our graduate students made around 300 school girls and boys uniforms for them. This year they have ordered 759 uniforms, and 9 of our graduate students are making them. And we hope that next year Helping Hands will keep ordering a lot of uniforms from us. We enjoy the partnership and the opportunity for our graduate students to earn some money.

Graduates work on the Helping Hands project to make school uniforms

Lastly, I want to say that I am very happy to work on JWOC’s Sewing Class as we have such a good team to work with. I am very pleased as a manager to see how Mala and Saroem have developed their skills teaching and coordinating, and how our students have achieved their goals. We will keep our work with Sewing Class running smoothly and effectively in order benefit those who need help for bettering their economic situation, especially women. 
 

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