Golden Hands Livelihood
Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program Empowers Women in Manila
ER’s desire to help women led to the formation of the Golden Hands Sewing group, which evolved into the Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program one year later. We had to change the name because the program was accomplishing far more than teaching sewing skills.
In 2012, a group of mothers and women from a small community of poor informal settlements in Makati City decided to meet on a regular basis. Their purpose is to spend productive time learning more skills.
Extreme Response Asia’s Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program took the initiative to train, educate and organize the women, most of whom come from the informal settlements. The aim of the program is to empower and change the lives of women living in extreme and often life-threatening situations.
Program director Anne Benavidez developed a community-based curriculum for the group. They meet once a week for values formation and skills enhancement. They were taught how to do basic sewing and pattern making for skirts, swing bags, double-sided aprons and a whole lot more. During the training, the women developed not only their skills, but also self-confidence and trusted relationships.
Like caterpillars emerging as beautiful butterflies from their cocoons, members of the Golden Hands Livelihood Education Program celebrate graduating from the program every year. Each of the women wore dresses they made themselves and enjoyed a time of recognition, glamour and thankfulness. Each graduate also receives a new sewing machine.
These graduations are a very big deal. All the women came from humble backgrounds. Most live in squatter communities and struggle with extreme poverty, substandard living conditions and a lack of opportunity.
To get to this point, the women had to commit to attend weekly classes for eight months and finish all their assignments. They had to learn cutting, pattern making, basic sewing, crocheting and some knitting. Eight of 10 enrollees made it all the way through the program.
But today the graduates have confidence and hope for the future.
So what caused the transformation to take place?
The short answer is people cared. Extreme Response Asia staff members saw the needs and became determined to find a way to encourage, inspire and equip these women to strive for better lives. We saw the potential in the women, even though many of the women could not yet see it in themselves.