FOLLOWING a week's training on basket weaving and jewelry making, the women of Suweni Village in Cakaudrove now have an opportunity to start up their own income-generating projects with the use of available resources.
Initiated by the Department of Forestry in the north under the Suweni Forest Conservation Project, the women made use of resources like coconut shells, pandanus leaves and tree fibres for their handicraft items.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded training ended yesterday and was facilitated by Samuela Cabe and Neomai Vakarau. The pair are professional crafts people, who are members of the Fiji Arts Council.
Senior forestry extension officer northern Jone Vakarewa said the training was aimed at empowering women to use available resources for more sources of income.
"This village is surrounded by forests and wildlife that needs to be conserved for the purpose of maintaining our natural resources," Mr Vakarewa said.
"We decided to organise the training because we believe this is another way of maintaining the natural habitat as women will be very selective in using resources for their handicraft work."
Mr Vakarewa said plans were also in the pipeline to hire a stall at the Labasa Market where the women could display their artwork for sale.
Speaking on behalf of the facilitators, Mr Cabe said the women's learning capacity needed to be developed further so they could be creative with their work.
"We have been in the handicraft business for a long time now and it's only proper these women have the heart to learn more so they are able to start up their own businesses," he said.
Participant Asenaca Vunileba said she was privileged to be part of such training, saying it was an eye-opener for her.
"I never knew how to weave a basket and I thank the facilitators and the department for bringing this training into our doorsteps, something that will create employment for us," Ms Vunileba said.