Shanti Sanal polishes a coconut in preparation to make art. Shanti is participating in an income-generating class at the Bedesta Child Development Center (IN-786). She will eventually sell the art she crafts out of coconuts.
By selling the decorative pieces they make from coconut shells, these mothers of Compassion-assisted children will be able to improve their families' income.
In India, mothers of children enrolled at the Bedesta Child Development Center (IN-786) are preparing to better care for their children by learning how to make handicraft items thanks to monies from the Partners of Compassion Fund (POC).
Located on the coast of Kerala state, the Bedesta CDC is in an area thick with coconut trees. This area is well-known for its "coconut art," which is extremely popular, especially among tourists. The decorative pieces, made from coconut shells, sell well among tourists through the local stores, in hotels and as exports. The raw materials are inexpensive, and the final product can be sold at 40 to 100 times the cost.
Putting Creativity to Work
Coconut art items are a perfect income-generating source for the Bedesta CDC mothers because coconuts are cheap and abundant, the tools needed to carve them are simple, and anyone with a little creativity and training can make them in their own home. The results include teacups, spoons, incense stick stands and other carved items each unique and beautifully designed.
"We teach the parents to 'see' the potential hidden in a plain, ordinary coconut shell. The possibilities are limitless," says Binod George, the program trainer, who meets with the mothers three times a week. "If the trainee is motivated enough, there is no saying how far one can go with this craft." Most important, he adds, "I also train the women to market their product and be self-reliant."
New Hopefor Sheela and Her Family
One of the women undergoing training, Sheela, recently said, "If I can do this, I can buy the things my family desperately needs." With a daughter enrolled in the local Compassion-assisted program, Sheela and her husband, John, don't have to worry about providing for their daughter's schooling and other basic needs. However, despite this assistance, John is unable to find steady work and the family's income has been insufficient. Now, thanks to the POC and a class in coconut art, Sheela and her family have new hope for a brighter future.
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