Behind the Scarf: Noreen
For years, we’ve been selling the beautiful infinity scarves made by the employees of Life Stitch and the graduates of the Women’s Vocational Training Center, and we want you to get to know these resilient women who are hand sewing each one. All of the graduates from our program have left empowered, encouraged, and with a hope for a brighter future.
We hope you enjoy this series of getting to know the stories of the women who are behind the scenes of the beautiful LifeStitch scarves you wear each Fall.
*Names and photos may have been changed for security purposes
Let us introduce you to: Noreen
Before training at Shining Light’s Women’s Vocational Training Center, Noreen was just sitting in her home. She knew the basic techniques of sewing and attended a government school through 10th grade, but she had always dreamed of being a business owner. She was told about the training opportunity by her sister, who is currently a WVTC trainer.
She quickly signed up, and learned to sew bags, bedsheets, cushions, and pillow covers. After graduating from the WVTC she experienced a huge change in her life. The sewing machine she received has helped her tremendously because though she had some basic skills, she didn’t have a machine to do anything about it. This allowed her to begin a small business out of her home earning 6,000 rupees per month!
She knew the basic techniques of sewing and attended a government school through 10th grade, but she had always dreamed of being a business owner.
“Being a business owner in Pakistan is very beneficial. It is a huge honor if you can actually start to make something. Culturally a woman is often thought to be a burden on a family…they eat and eat and eat and then go to live somewhere else, but once they start to earn an income they gain status and respect in their families.”
In October 2013, Noreen attended Yobel’s Entrepreneurial Training Course as well as their Quality Control and Design Course. Her tailoring business, operated out of her home has since taken off and now attracts over 20 customers per month. Her customer base has grown because she learned from Yobel’s training to market herself both by creating samples to show at shops within the town market and through word of mouth. Noreen now earns 20,000 Rs, the equivalent of $200 USD per month in an area where most women earn nothing. Half of the money goes to her parents to run the family because they are elderly, which has enabled the family to leave their former financial crisis. The other half she saves for her future marriage in order not to burden her parents with the expense of her dowry. Noreen now maintains a business budget and a separate household budget. She dreams of expanding her business by working hard to improve the quality of her products. If she does this she believes it will grow. Her hope is to soon be earning 30,000 Rs ($300 USD) per month.
Her hope for other Pakistani women business owners is that, “Women should learn the different professional skills and start small businesses, help them to gain recognition in their families, gain honor and discover the meaning of life. Shukria (thank-you). Because of Yobel and Shining Light’s training and encouraging, a girl from a small village can receive big help.”