From our Mission of the Month: Georgia, learn how a USAID-supported project empowers women to acquire training that allows them to contribute to their family incomes.
Christina Blurtsian is a 22-year old ethnic Armenian student passionate about the arts. She paints, sings, plays guitar and even makes costumes for one of the local theaters in Tbilisi.
“When I was a kid, I would spend nights painting. It was my true passion. I would draw on a piece of paper, cardboard, asphalt, even on a wall-paper. Soon sewing became my passion. It first started when my mom gave me a doll and I decided to make her a dress.”
Since then Christina has made several dresses for her friends and actors as well. She will turn this passion into a profession soon. After completing a USAID-supported vocational training course in sewing machine skills, Christina will start working at an apparel factory.
In partnership with the apparel industry, the USAID Economic Prosperity Initiative (EPI) developed a short-term training program that connects vocational colleges and the apparel industry. The partnership allows the apparel sector access to a qualified workforce that will increase the industry’s productivity while women like Christina gain skills, empowerment, and employment.
“I prefer to start working at an apparel plant. After I gain enough experience, I am going to teach others. I’m trying to find a permanent job not just because I need to earn money, although I have to support my parents. I’m striving to achieve my goals.”
Christina is very clear about her plans and goals. In a large family of seven, she is now the only one living with her parents. Christina’s mother works at a grocery store, her father is a pensioner, and their income barely covers utility bills. Christina knows her earnings will be an important contribution to the family income. Still, Christina believes hard work, a sense of purpose and diligence are qualities that matter just as much as a better living of her family. “Realizing my interests and aptitude in life is a key drive for me. Everything I do, I do for this reason.”
Iveta Tskhovrebashvili is a dedicated mother who completed the same course. At 40 years old Iveta saw the course as a second chance to finally have a real profession. She’s always had a knack for sewing. “I would often make myself a dress. It was during the particularly difficult times when not many people could afford fancy clothes, especially my acquaintances. My dresses did draw attention; none of them would miss a compliment. People really liked them,” Iveta recalls.
The sewing courses showed Iveta new techniques and helped her improve. “Speed, meticulousness, the ability to work with complex garments – these are the skills I’ve acquired through the courses,” Iveta says.
Iveta believes the courses will help her find a job and support her family. “My husband is without work and there are so many things my daughter needs that we cannot afford. Once I start working in an apparel factory the situation will become better,” she says.
Both Christina and Iveta are interns at a local apparel manufacturing company and, if successful, will secure a job.