COVID-19 has exacerbated the instabilities faced by marginalised communities in Delhi, India, especially the refugees who are scattered throughout the slums in both the urban areas and the suburbs. The closure of many businesses that once offered employment and daily wages has affected their income. Expenses have skyrocketed due to the lockdown, making the lives of refugee families even more vulnerable.
To support women who lost their means of livelihood, JRS has invested in a new initiative called Skilling Circles, which allows the women to learn new skills (such as sewing and arts and crafts) that in turn they teach to other refugee women in various communities. This interaction has not only created a renewed source of income, but has also allowed the women to offer each other unity, support, and comfort.
Through this programme, JRS is creating opportunities for the Chin and Afghan refugee women in Delhi to better respond to the needs of the labour market. Already trained in tailoring, crochet and embroidery at varied levels, the participants of Skilling Circles are able to enhance and improve their technical-skills from qualified trainers and mentors.
An example is the online-fashion design training offered by designer Ms. Corrine Sequeira, which provides a wealth of new information to the participants, including market demands such as styles of dresses, materials, stories behind labels and brands, and the importance of giving their products a unique, personal touch.
Learning how to adapt their products to cultural and seasonal demands, the group of refugee women created their first enterprise with the production of pyjamas and Christmas Tree ornaments over the winter months.
“Working on Christmas ornaments was a great experience for the Skilling Circles team. It was a privilege to lead the group. The enthusiasm of the women has inspired me to work with them as a team and take the initiative of Skilling Circles to many other skilled women,” says Shahgul Yasan, JRS Programme Coordinator.
Skilling Circles enables the participants to explore their talents while enhancing their employment possibilities; this has the potential to ensure economic and social security to their families.
“JRS helped me to identify my skills and gave me an opportunity to both share and teach these skills to my fellow community members, so that they can earn a living and become self-reliant,” says Tamanna, an Afghan refugee and life skill trainer of JRS.