TPDCo trains 15 to make authentic Jamaican craft items

BY RENAE DIXON
Observer staff reporter
dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 30, 2017

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A craft programme put on by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) is facilitating the training of 15 Jamaicans to make craft items, a move that should see them starting their own businesses.

The programme is being run at the Hampton Community Centre in Runaway Bay in St Ann.

“It's my first time holding a needle doing any form of embroidery,” Lonie McNish told the Jamaica Observer North & East as she did hardanger stitches on a cushion.

“My main purpose for doing this is to create work to do a business and to occupy my time,” McNish added.

She said doing embroidery is also very comforting for her.

“I would encourage anyone to learn even for their own purpose. It's a kind of relaxation. It keeps your mind relaxed,” McNish stated.

The programme trains the women to produce art using embroidery, tie and dye, crochet embroidery, coconut shell, calabash, and to make jewellery.

Charma Ellis, craft officer with TPDCo, explained that the aim of the programme is to get Jamaicans to produce authentic Jamaican craft items.

“Many times when visitors come to Jamaica they are unable to get authentic Jamaican products,” Ellis said.

She explained that the programme, which is coordinated by the craft Department of TPDCo, aims to change this by training Jamaicans to rate their own products. The aim is also to get these people to start their own businesses.

“When we train persons in these areas, it is our desire that they will become entrepreneurs producing authentic Jamaican products,” she added.

Ellis said the programme, which is now being carried out in Kingston, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, is being done through a department headed by Carol Rose Brown and Violet Crutchley.

After all the trainings are completed, craft fairs will be held in the three areas where training was done. A craft fair will be held in Ocho Rios in November, she informed.

The participants at Hampton Community Centre, who are from six different communities in St Ann, had high praises for the programme.

“If you want to start your own business, it will help,” Samantha Strachn said. Yvette Robinson also shared that view.

“The main purpose is to start a business so we can make money,” Robinson said.

She said it also allowed many who could not make any art before to do so.

“Some of us couldn't hold a needle and now we can,” she added.

Charmaine Chevannes-Brown said the programme also allows people from several communities to interact with each other.

“We have different age groups, but we laugh together. We look forward to coming on a Wednesday; even when persons have to go to other places, they always come back,” she said.

The participants are currently making pillow cases, napkins, towels, and other items. They will also be making their own dresses for graduation.

“It is a good experience and we get to learn a lot,” Sylvia Thompson, another participant added.

Violet Donaldson said she finds the programme interesting and looks forward to attending training weekly.

While the participants welcome the training and have been enjoying it, Karen Tulloch said her wish is for more communities to become involved.

“There are a lot of communities that would grasp it with open arms,” she said. Tulloch said she would like TPDCo to consider expanding the programmes to other areas across St Ann so more communities will benefit.

The women are instructed by members of the Jamaica Hardanger Society — Inez Dailey, Juilette Smith and Islyn Byro — from the neighbouring parish of St Mary.

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