Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Week 2: A Visit To the Smock Makers!

We’ve been in Bolga for a whole week now, the team is getting along with each other and we have learnt so much about TradeAID and the INCOME project.  One of the crafts groups we are working with are the local smock makers who we visited today. It was nice to finally see them hard at work having heard so much about them in the office and from the previous cohort’s research.

The smock makers were incredibly friendly and made us feel very welcome, particularly by the music they had playing in the background – Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s Still Dre. All of the smock makers were male and there was a great sense of community in the market where they were working. We learnt that the smock trade was passed down through generations where young boys would learn the profession through apprenticeship and then inherit the business from their fathers.

Amongst the smock makers who were busy stitching away we could see several different types of smocks hanging in the market in a variety of styles and colours. Conrad, one of our national volunteers who is very knowledgeable on the smock market also told us that the newer generation of smock makers have began designing new, more modern products using the same materials as the traditional smocks to diversify their product range.

Smock makers working in the market.

The team loved the smocks and we were offered the chance to try on the traditional attire, something we were more than happy to do! After taking more than enough pictures of ourselves  modeling the smocks we went on to have a meeting with the group of smock makers we work with.

Don't we look fabulous?
Top Row: Lukmaan
Bottom Row (L-R): Jake, Zainab, Falah, Alastair

We noticed that a large proportion of the smock makers were Muslim and the meeting began with a prayer in Arabic. The smock makers said how they have seen positive impact as a result of the past cohorts record keeping classes which is something we will continue to monitor. I was impressed with how motivated all the smock makers were and am really looking forward to working with them. As we ended the meeting, Therri asked a slightly nervous Zainab if she wanted to offer a closing prayer, a bit apprehensive at first, she rose to the challenge and recited a beautiful prayer!

It was the first time the whole team was out in the field together and we got an insight into how the local crafts people work. It is safe to say we all loved the visit and cannot wait to start working with them! 



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