Career Alternative: from a liquid dish washing soap-making class to a larger community engagement
Story by: Weeraphong Kangwannavakul
AAT initiated a community development activity, “Washer Power Activity”, in order to support capability of women from country of origin. The activity was held in late May 2015 at Kad Tao Temple, Kengtung, Myanmar.
In partnership with local leaders, AAT invited the target group focusing on young women, youths, housewives and househusbands who were interested. Over 40 participants participated in the event, which was new for them to experience this kind of training workshop.
The design and preparation of this “Washer Power Activity” was done with attention to detail, because activity to run during workshop in the community of origin needed to gain trust from participants and must include women’s right, analysis of problems in one’s own community. Most importantly, the activity must draw participants’ attention to involve in the activity.
The “Washer Power Activity” was a workshop training to enable participants to make dishwashing liquid. The workshop duration was one day, which was appropriate and did not consume working time of participants. The learning of dishwashing liquid ingredients and making process took not so long. However, working team included other useful knowledge on tools, ingredients and also knowledge sharing from real life experiences among participants. There were 4 groups of participants from the same or nearby neighborhoods set up to work on discussion and sharing with the topics given by AAT and facilitators team.
Nuanhom, a representative of young girls from the local community said that “I am so glad to have an opportunity to join this activity. I learned a lot about the dishwasher liquid, what are the ingredients, and it is not difficult t all. I can now make it by myself”.
Thip, a representative of young girls from the local community said that “I have just found that the expensive dishwasher liquid is the same quality with this homemade one, as the ingredients are almost the same. They are slightly different on smell, color and bubbles. Also, I think the difference of packaging and brand reputation of the brand that we like, but once I know the making process, I’d rather make it myself. It can save me a lot of money”.
Mohom, a representative of young girls from the local community said that “I think I will take this dishwashing liquid making to discuss further with local women group that we may set up a group to make this as another source of income. At least, once the group learned how to make this dishwasher liquid, they can make it themselves instead of buying it from groceries, which save us a lot of money”.
In this dishwasher making workshop, AAT and the community leaders had brought the joyfulness from the workshop learning together, and also expand the local women networking to participants from other communities as well.
At the end of the workshop, AAT challenged the participants that if any community can set up a community career center or women network, AAT is willing to fully support their community activities by sending facilitator team to teach and provide consultations on other interested topics or issues they may have. This is, to light up the women’s role to learn and enhance skills for further continuous learning, which is the beginning of creating the power of life among women in the community of origin in Kengtung, Myanmar.
As Mohom stated, indeed, many of the participants went back to their community and passed on their knowledge and wisdom. In this picture, the training was done in Muang La, Shan State. The picture also shows this teenage girl who has been producing own dish-washing soap to sell in own village and surrounding area.