Skills: To empower women and build their capacity in generating income, a two-week training on waste management is underway in Thimphu.

The 40 participants comprises of women living in low-income residential areas, parents of children with special needs from the Draktsho Vocational Training Centre and Ability Bhutan Society, and single parents living in the capital.

The training organised by the Tarayana Foundation started on January 30. Catherine Garcia and Elena Aborde from the Kilus Foundation in the Philippines are providing the training.

The Kilus Foundation is an all women organisation comprising of 500 women.

Tarayana Foundation’s programme officer, Wangmo, said the training focuses on developing their skills of weaving different kinds of bags and accessories from waste products, and also equipping them with basic tailoring skills.

“In this way, the participants learn about the importance of reusing and recycling waste at home, and also guide them about solid waste management especially on the characterisation and quantification of solid waste,” Wangmo said.

The participants have woven and stitched all kinds of bags ranging from wallets, lunch boxes, shopping bags, trash bags and handbags, among others, all woven from sturdy plastic as raw materials. The participants have also tried to make penholders and pencil bags, among others.

Once they have perfected weaving and stitching such bags from waste materials, we will exhibit their products during the Tarayana fair that will be held in May this year, Wangmo said.

“There is no market for such products as of now, so once they are equipped with these skills, we will help them establish a market so that they can earn a small living,” Wangmo said. “Such training sessions are being held for the first time in Thimphu. Usually we organise such training sessions in rural areas. Once we finish with the training, we are planning to train women in rural areas as well.”

A participant, Tshering Choden, 40, living in Lungtenphug, said she never imagined that hand bags could be woven from waste materials.

“After this training, I realised the importance of waste and the possibility of turning trash into a useful thing. I am going to teach these skills to my daughters and relatives as well,” Tshering Choden said.

Another participant, Tsampa Zangmo, 25, also from Lungtenphug, said although there is no market for such products, she hopes to continue developing her skills by trying different waste materials.

“Although we are not educated, we are happy that we are given such opportunity to learn such skills. I am happy that once we find a market, we will able to make a living out of it,” Tsampa Zangmo said.

The training is funded by Asian Development Bank, of which the funds are transferred through READ Bhutan. The training ends on February 14.

Thinley Zangmo