Through the PNG–Australia Partnership 23 participants including Kokoda Village Health Volunteers (VHVs), undertook the Seif Meri Mun (SMM) training which was conducted by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Kokoda.
Women and girls along the Kokoda Track region through the project were provided with a way to better manage menstruation with dignity and ensure women’s participation in education, training, and employment opportunities by supplying free reusable sanitary pads to women in remote communities.
Amongst the participants was, Theresa Kila Pat, who turned her passion of sewing into a small business through the Kokoda Initiative’s livelihood program. The SMM project facilitated training that taught local women sewing skills and provided further opportunities for income generation.
Theresa helped train 16 women as seamstresses. The women produced over 700 sanitary hygiene kits for women and girls in the Kokoda Track region. Since the engagement with the SMM program, Theresa has expanded her business by purchasing four new sewing machines.
“Sewing was something I learned in my home economics class in high school many years ago, and because of my passion for sewing, I easily learned the skills from my mother as well and since then, sewing has been my hobby for the past 33 years,” the mother of four said.
Now being engaged as the project supervisor to lead on the SMM project, has urged Theresa to go beyond my limit.
“I worked hard and now own six sewing machines, which I use to sew for my business and teach other women in my community.”
In addition to her tailoring business, Theresa runs weekly sewing sessions at home with women from her community, where she teaches them how to sew simple household products.
“Not only do I train other women, but I teach my children as well, and I tell them sewing is a life skill. From watching me teach other women to sew, my 22-year-old son David can now sew pillowcases, face masks, curtains and even helped sew sanitary hygiene kits. Seeing my son learn this skill makes me a proud mother and trainer,” she stated.
Theresa sews meri blouses, skirts, pillowcases, tablecloths, curtains, face masks and sanitary hygiene kits for schoolgirls and women. She now aims to partner with community schools in Oro and sew uniforms and supply SMM kits to girls in Oro Province schools.