Centre Empowers Women Graduates


With reserves of creative flair, graduates of the Almanah Hope Centre continue to derive income from artistic skills training. In doing so, they represent the economic empowerment fostered by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation.

Based in Teidamu, Lautoka, a total of 43 women are the most recent graduates of the centre, which the Ministry has supported through grants to the tune of $100,000 over the past two years. 

“Our support to the Alamanah Hope Centre was encouraged by the fact that they allow developmental opportunities to the underprivileged and disadvantaged women of our society which includes, widows, single mothers, women with little or no formal education, women from broken families, and women from all cultural and religious backgrounds – this is a rare service with great potential in our country,” the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa, said.

Spread over an 18-week period, graduates were trained in recycled arts (beading, jewellery-making, recycled paper beads, plastic flowers, vases, fabric flowers and multi-purpose bags, basic weaving (fans, place mats and mats), tie-dye and sun dye, fabric stenciling, sewing and patch work for cushion covers and eco bags.

As the Minister professed, the creative and innovative ability of Fijian women is prevalent at major platforms such as the National Women’s Expo, where ordinary Fijian women artisans bring to the table, extraordinary products made of resources from their local surroundings - fully local and 100 percent handmade.

“Without compromising authenticity, these women continue to improve the quality, designs and supply of their products with the aim to receive the Fijian Made/Fijian Crafted Accreditation,” Minister Vuniwaqa added.

Graduates are a mix of widows, single mothers, divorcees and married women whose husbands are casual employees. They have sold products at the National Women’s Expo, with additional markets including open days at the centre and through orders.

Centre director, Dorinda Work said their graduates had already formed groups within their various communities to share the skills learnt with other women, with some also selling their product within their communities.

“Almanah Hope Centre is very grateful for the grant funding that has been given by the Ministry of Women.  With the funds made available, we have been able to expand our training program by introducing additional craft skills for the women to learn and employ as income-generating projects to build sustainable livelihoods,” Ms Work added.

“Further training will be implemented for program graduates in terms of capacity building for advocacy roles in their respective communities, and this is where we see our partnership with the Ministry of Women developing further.  Trained women advocates would have an impact in their various communities through developed structures, for example community-based organisations, women’s clubs etc., a thriving network that links them to Lifebread Stay Connected Foundation (Fiji) and the Ministry.  This would give scope for more women to get involved with national development,” she explained.

Amongst the recent graduates was 32-yearold Rita Ranji, who received a Jewellery Kit certificate, and plans to sell her wares at home and from a roadside stall. 

The centre is owned by Lifebread Stay Connected Foundation (Fiji), whose founder and director, Dr. Raymond Moti confirmed plans to replicate their training in Labasa.