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Telwatte community enterprise


In July 2019, with our partner Human Development Foundation, we started a new project in Telwatte, a small village just outside the popular beach town of Hikkauwa on the south coast. Like many coastal towns, Telwatte was devastated by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and we worked with the community in the aftermath to rebuild. The previous project in 2005 was focused on meeting the immediate needs of the community with donations of essential items and livelihoods/ self-employment support. We set up a Women’s Society to bring people together to help each other and the society has gone from strength to strength. They now have 45 members, and provide business loans and loans to families in need, run training programmes and organise community events.

Sewing training.

Embark bags.

Shining Life and HDF remained close with the community and when we heard the group’s dream to start a community enterprise we knew we wanted support.

Our new project is focused on establishing a shop in the name of the Women’s Society from which the members can sell their handmade products. We’re delivering training in dress-making & sewing, batik (a traditional dyeing process using wax) and coir (items made from the hairy inner shell of the coconut). The women are paid for their time and their skills, and the profits are reinvested in the society and community. The shop opened in August 2019 and we’re focused on increasing the products on sale and networking to increase our visibility and encourage more customers.

Bags for Intrepid.

The society also take custom orders and have managed to secure some contracts with socially conscious organisations. For the travel company Intrepid they make 150-500 tote bags per month and we’re in discussions now to bring the tour groups into Telwatte for community visits. In December 2019 the group made batik bags for Embark, a large department store who support street dog rehabilitation. The group also have on-going orders with Sustainablee to make various household items. These orders provide some additional security for the group and will help sustain the shop during the low season when there are fewer visitors to the south coast.

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