On June 23, 2015, twenty three women received a brand new sewing machine at the graduation ceremony for the Women’s Vocational Training Center in Gilgit, Pakistan.
This sewing machine each woman was given is not just a practical piece of equipment, it symbolizes much more in the life of a Pakistani woman. Upon graduating from the WVTC year long training program, each woman will return to their home towns and villages with a new pride in their accomplishments, new opportunities, a hope for their future, and a new found honor among their communities. The brand new, hard earned sewing machine is a physical representation of the changed life of a woman.
Beginning with only ten women, the WVTC has grown and continued to thrive beyond what was originally imagined. Originally, it was not a lot more than an inspired idea and a vision to empower the women of Northern Pakistan. It began in a room with only ten eager students, and the bare minimum in equipment. However, as the training developed, and the women applied their new skills, the potential for additional training only grew as well.
Now, WVTC graduates are trained in sewing basics, cutting, embroidery, knitting, English, Urdu, ethics and literacy development. Upon graduation, we hope to leave women with lasting values based upon three main principles:
- To communicate to women that they are of great value in the sight of God, and have equal standing with men.
- To teach women practical skills so that they will be empowered to support their families and benefit their communities.
- To create harmony between the different sects and creeds by bringing them together and to share the love of God with them.
We have now seen 278 women graduate from the program and return to their homes with a brighter future. Many of these graduates have gone on to create small businesses, teach others their newly acquired skills, and some have even begun their own vocational centers. One graduate, with one sewing machine, can in turn effect entire communities as these women bring their new skills back home. As of June 23, 2013, twenty-three more women are now being sent out from the WVTC to impact the future of Pakistan.
“Shining Light gave me confidence, and the taste of freedom..”
Here is the testimony of just one of these recent graduates, Ansar.
“…I feel proud that I am able to complete my one year training session and have received a sewing machine. This
will be a great help to generate my own source of income to help my family and teach skills to other women. I belong to a very poor and illiterate family. Because of poverty and tough situations in my village I was not able to go school. My whole life was behind the walls and I was not allowed to go out from the house. Shining Light has given me confidence and the taste of freedom which is unforgettable. Before that, I did not like where I lived and
did not want to go back, but after this training now I have realized, ladies in
my village are the same like me, and
God loves them. They need training and encouragement so I want to go back there to help other women to make their future bright. The vocation school not only provided training to me but also accommodation and food for one year. Thank you Shining Light! I will pray for its prosperity and for more ladies to come and learn these skills. This is my first achievement in my whole life which is like a dream.”