Vocational Training Centre for Women
Project region: Cuddalore and Villupuram Districts, region of Tamil Nadu
Duration: December 2007 to present
Aim: Vocational training for young women and adolescents
Beneficiaries: Young women from 27 villages of the region (a total of 24,317 people).
Course of action:
• Training in baking
• Training in sewing
• Computer training
The young women also attended an empowerment course on subjects such as health, the problem of alcohol, craft work, etc. in order to gain confidence in themselves and decide the fate of their social lives while respecting the society around them.
Diploma courses (in chronological order):
In April, 2007, seven young women took part in the first vocational training course on food preparation (making pickles). None of the young women knew how to cook and preferred buying prepared meals.
The course covered:
• Training on proper usage and maintenance of various tools, equipment and materials
• How to choose good quality fruits and vegetables
• Preparation of pickles, mango chutney and vegetables
• Packaging techniques (jars) and labeling
• Preservation techniques
• Sales techniques (calculating the production costs and sales possibilities)
The young women learned from the knowledge and techniques of Lourdes Tiouvanzian Louis, author of the book “Traditional Cuisine from Pondicherry” and a specialist of spices. They all received the recipe book in Tamil and a pickle preparation kit.
The next session will be held in august. The young women will learn how to prepare different curries, used to prepare meals but also for healing, especially for infections.
Testimony of Rajalakshmi, 32 years old (at the VTC):
“Once the customers have tasted ours, they won’t eat the inedible ones from the shops and they’ll come back to us for more!”
In Aprils 2011, eleven young women took part in an esthetician training course. The class began at a beauty salon in Pondicherry. The trainees were able to familiarize themselves with the different materials used and had access to all the necessary make-up products. The course took place during the store hours, with a one-hour lunch break taken in the botanical garden not far from the salon, where the trainees had never been!
The course covered:
• A presentation on different skin types
• A presentation of the different products used on the different skin types
• A presentation on hair-removal techniques
• A study of the financial aspects of the creation of a small shop
The young women also had specific training on how to prepare brides:
• A presentation on the different wedding ceremonies of different religions
• A presentation of facial treatment before the wedding (three days before)
• Preparation of different types of make-up: Hindu, Christian, Muslum
• Preparation of the wardrobe and jewelry
• Preparation of a list of all the necessary material
The next week focused on more practical course work: masks, treatments, facial massages, hair removal, and make-up. Two of the trainees have already decided to set up a beauty salon in their own villages. The women have greatly appreciated the work, on a psychological level as well as an economic level. The make-up training course has given them the knowledge necessary to open their own beauty salons which requires a relatively small initial investment with important returns which can cover the family’s needs throughout the year.
• January to July 2010: 39 young women were trained (12 in baking, 15 in computer skills and 11 in sewing). The training center also welcomed young refugee women from Sri Lanka in extreme hardship (family or a close friend killed during the war). They returned to their country with their professional diploma which allowed them to find a job quickly.
• February 2010: The association Des sourires plein les cœurs (hearts filled with smiles) of high school students handed the diplomas to the trainees enrolled at the time.
Results in 2009: An average of 80 young women trained yearly with sessions from three to six months. 85% of the young women found work in the area or in Pondicherry.
• For the sewing trainees, many of them work in their home villages where there were no seamstresses before.
• For the baking trainees, some found work in the hotels of the region, baking bread and pastries, others decided to open their own cooperative bakeries.
• For the computer trainees, a market study is currently under way to start a subsidiary center (typing, photo retouch, web etc.) for the local companies or those from Chennai (the capital of the Tamil Nadu region).
Thanks to our local partner, BLESS, all the young trainees were able to obtain a microcredit allowing them to create their own businesses in their villages. The structures are all cooperatives.
• December 2009: During their activities to help boost their independence, the young women participated in a an environmental awareness program: 50 trees were planted in the surrounding villages
• November 2009: Christophe, a computer technician, contributed his know-how to the computer training courses
• January 2009: The Consul de France de Pondichéry (The French Consul in Pondicherry) and ten French prefects visited the project and participated in the celebrations for the first graduation ceremony of the young women.
• 2008/2009: The young women participated in English lessons, leadership training and the fabrication of craft products.
• November to December 2008: James Forest and Michel Cirès, French bakers specialized in organic recipe planning, came for two months to train the local baking instructors and test different recipes. The test breads used different types of local tropical flours, mixed with wheat for the necessary gluten. The breads (more than 15 varieties) that were produced were a success, not only in organoleptic terms, but also in nutritional terms. The breads and traditional pastries were distributed in the home villages of the trainees and the local population enjoyed them very much. Watch the trailer for the documentary Des mains pour faire des mains pour dire (Hands to do and hands to speak) about their visit.
• November 2008: Inauguration of the multidisciplinary training center and the beginning of the training sessions
Local partner: Soldiarité India (the Indian branch of SOLIDARITE)