Arts and Crafts Training
As part of this ‘Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund’ project focusing on Tiwai and its host communities, arts and crafts training has been ongoing over the last year.
The purpose of the training is to upskill members of the surrounding community in order to promote alternative livelihood opportunities, thus reducing the pressure of poaching, slash and burn agriculture and mining on this unique island ecosystem.
The Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA), coordinating the project, aims to involve the trainees in improving the facilities on Tiwai with their newfound skills. Since the training started, the visitor’s centre has already seen improvements, such as new woven raffia mats across the ceiling and new bamboo furniture.
In September 2009, a group of thirty two participants from the eight communities came to Tiwai for the first arts and crafts training course. Mr. and Mrs. Lumpkin of Amistad Development Association Skills Training, were the tutors for this course. They are skilled professionals in a range of traditional arts and crafts including gara tie-dying, soapmaking, textile weaving, bamboo furniture making, bamboo cup making and mat weaving.
This initial training course was successful and led to a second training period starting in March of 2010.
The trainees chose their preferred crafts and concentrated their time and energy on learning those crafts. Mustafa, one of the trainees, was a farmer before he started the course. He used to engage in slash and burn agriculture but he was grateful for this opportunity to learn a new skill. He specialized in making bamboo furniture and now enjoys the fact that he can create something with his hands. According to him he is “happy to share this knowledge with his community” so in this way EFA hopes that valuable skills will be transferred to other community members.
Overall, the courses proved successful and participants gained valuable skills that it is hoped will help them to diversify their incomes. EFA was delighted to see the colorful and creative results of these trainings. A selection of arts and crafts items are now available for sale on the island and the aim is to extend the sale of arts and crafts into the host communities. Some of the trainees are now producing some of these items for sale in their villages – for example some are already making baskets, doing needle work and soap making in their home communities.