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Disadvantaged women empowering themselves at KWID.

KWID stands for Khomas Women in Development and is a non-profit, community based membership organisations located in Wanaheda, Katutura. Its strategic setting close to the informal settlement of Havanna makes it easy for disadvantaged women who are living there to get in touch with the centre.

This year the project is celebrating its 10th anniversary and the staff is very proud of all their achievements throughout the years. Today KWID is offering skills training to 100 to 150 students in the following areas: Needlework, Cooking and Nutrition, Baking and Confectionery, Office Skills, Photography, Leatherwork, Restaurant Service and Basic English.

The fee to attend these classes is one hundred Namibia Dollars per month, and a variety of courses are on offer, ranging from short courses and half-year courses to a full year. Needlework is one of the most popular classes, because women find it useful for themselves even if they don't find a job after the course. They can also apply for a micro credit from the Bank of Namibia or government to start their own small business.

KWID also had plans for establishing a production unit where women could produce articles for sale, but the market is very small and competitive, so they dropped that idea again. However, Alwina says that if they could get a volunteer to help them with their marketing and market research they would pick it up again. So if you are good in these fields and you want to support this project, feel free to contact them!

KWID is not only a training centre, but provides other important services to women. It runs a kindergarten and a pre-school for children from ages two to six years, and an HIV/Aids Programme. The kindergarten provides 90 places, of which ten go to orphans and vulnerable children. The kids receive a nutritious hot meal at lunch time and are looked after by three qualified staff members.

In September another programme was started in collaboration with the University of Namibia. Twenty participants will get training in mushroom cultivation. This project will run for six months and will hopefully enable the women later on to generate some income.

In the future, KWID might venture into fields where men are working. Their goal is to also offer training in brick laying and painting for women. "Within these fields it is much easier to find work than with needlework, because people are building houses all the time," Alwina explains.

KWID has achieved a lot in the past ten years despite many challenges. Sometimes machines break down and cannot be fixed immediately because there is no money for this. They also run out of materials sometimes and have to wait a few months to get the money to buy them. The biggest challenge, however, is to get the graduates into the job market. While many of their needlework graduates were getting work at Ramatex in the past, some of the production lines are now closing down, and this is no longer a place to get employment.

Nevertheless, Alwina Awases is very motivated to continue her work. It is the moment when graduation comes that keeps her going. "You should see the faces of the participants when they are getting their diplomas. For some of them it is the first diploma they have ever received. They are very proud of themselves," she tells Sister Namibia, visibly sharing in that pride.

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This year's graduation will take place at the end of November. More than a hundred people will receive their diplomas then. Sister Namibia congratulates all of the graduates and we wish them good luck for finding a job!

"I want to encourage all women, no matter from what kind of background they are coming, to get out and come to our centre. There they have the opportunity to raise their self-esteem and gain skills to generate income later on," says Alwina Awases, director of KWID.
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Title Annotation:Khomas Women in Development
Publication:Sister Namibia
Geographic Code:6NAMI
Date:Nov 1, 2005
Words:654
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