It was a sultry Friday afternoon. A group of women, taking a break between lessons at their literacy class, were talking among themselves about ways to generate income to improve their household finances. A few of the older women mentioned their skills as weavers, a traditional craft in Kolahun dating back centuries. The craft has been slowly dying in Kolahun, primarily due to dwindling demand for the Country Cloth these women weave. The typical casual dress of women across Liberia today is a t-shirt and wrap skirt, both imported.
The other women were interested in weaving but most didn’t have the requisite skills. In the heat of the afternoon, they decided to form the Women’s Weaving Cooperative (WWC). They established a 6-month apprenticeship program that would give graduates the option to join the WWC. Each cohort would have 12 apprentices with the two skilled weavers as the instructors. They would meet every Friday and Saturday before their literacy lessons. The WWC’s first dozen apprentices have graduated; a second group of 12 apprentices is currently enrolled in the program. RESTORE HOPE: LIBERIA, with additional funding support from the Friends of Liberia,is supporting the WWC with seed capital to purchase the weaving supplies and underwrite a 4-month business skills training course. As these women embark on their long journey to economic independence, we are also working to secure markets, both in Liberia and internationally, where the Country Cloth would be sold at a fair price to ensure the profitability and sustainability of the venture.
The women of Kolahun have begun weaving an exciting new narrative for their future!