~ Betsy Elizabeth Trust Outreach Projects ~
The Sewing Center, Kodaikanal
In 2008, BET opened a sewing and training center to provide impoverished women with much-needed employment. A full-time teacher leads the program and women are employed in sewing and weaving. The center workers create tote bags, pillow covers, quilts, yoga mat cases, sarongs, and specially requested items.
Initially the project was funded by Marie Theiss, an American volunteer with HKI. The Sewing Center is actively seeking retail outlets for its projects and working to bring in more orders, and more workers, as this is achieved.
The Sewing Center women take part in all crèche celebrations, parent workshops, and teacher seminars. When a substitute for staff is needed at the crèches they are called upon, and some have moved into crèche positions permanently. Without exception, these women have difficult home lives. The sewing center provides them with a safe haven, friends, meaningful and creative work, and some income.
Health Center, Porayar
In addition to generational poverty, most of the parents of the children who come to the crèches are functionally illiterate. They lack the knowledge and resources to avail prenatal care, for good hygiene, and in taking basic care of their children’s health. Lora Chatfield, an HKI volunteer and registered nurse, traveled to Porayar to make a preliminary needs assessment. She found that there are no near-by health services in the region and village people urgently wanted and needed the program.
BET joined forces with the Foundation for the International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) to start the Health Center in 2007 to offer basic care and health education to Porayar and neighboring communities in the tsunami affected coastal area. It is open to all.
Students from the St. Johnsbury Academy, VT, raised $5,000 and traveled to Poriyar to build a dedicated space adjacent to the Helping Hearts Crèche for the Health Center. The Poriyar Health Center is staffed by a nurse midwife who is in the Health Center or at the crèches six days a week, but is always on call.