Handicraft centre trains women

Staff members of Civa Fiji Pearls with the oysters they harvested. Picture: SUPPLIED

IN economically empowering rural women, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) funded a new handicraft centre which was opened at the chiefly village on Taveuni.

Known as the Na Somo Ra Marama Handicraft Centre at Somosomo Village, local partners Civa Fiji Pearls Ltd helped establish the centre as a joint initiative of the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia and Ministry of Fisheries.

The centre was opened this week and the first lot of graduates were given certificates.

Civa Fiji Pearls Ltd director Claude Michel Prevost said the significant milestone was part of a research initiative to develop community-based livelihoods related to mother of pearl and mabe pearls.

“The Na Somo Ra Marama Handicraft Centre supports the livelihoods of local women through training to produce unique body adornment, jewellery and handicraft items,” he said.

“Members of the Na Somo Ra Women’s group have received training to use machines to cut, grind, shape and polish mabe pearls and pearl shells, and to fashion these components into high quality hand-made handicraft items.

“Establishment of this handicraft centre has made Taveuni Island the ‘Pearl Hub’ of Fiji, as all raw materials are sustainably and locally sourced.”

Mr Prevost said the mother of pearl shells were supplied by his company.

“The mabe pearls are produced by Dreketi Women’s Group from the nearby island of Qamea — supporting broad livelihoods benefits in Taveuni.

“In the short duration since being established, this handicraft centre has produced some of the finest and most sought-after items in the Fijian tourism market.”

The graduates included eight women from the village of Somosomo. Australian Professor Paul Southgate and Pranesh Kishore from the University of the Sunshine Coast and ACIAR were present with Fiji MP Dr Antonio Lalabalavu.

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