Friday, January 17, 2014

Malaysian Women Weave And Help Local Environment

© USAID CTSP / Tory Read
"The women of Maliangin and Banggi islands in Sabah, East Malaysia, have a long tradition of weaving with the leaves of the pandanus palm, but the skills required to harvest, prepare, dye and weave the leaves was vanishing. With the fisheries declining and food security threatened, household budgets were pinched and the women needed to help make ends meet.

"When WWF—through USAID’s Coral Triangle Support Partnership (CTSP)—came to this area inside the proposed Tun Mustapha Park and talked about alternative livelihoods to help take the pressure off the sea, everyone connected the dots, " writes the  World Wildlife Fund

"Nafsah Indami from Maliangin Island beams when talking about the income earned by her family since 2010. She specializes in woven bracelets and bangles and estimates she has earned 500 ringgits (about $170) in the past year. She can make five items a day between her other obligations and can sell these for 5 ringgit ($1.70) each, in line with the national minimum wage.

“I’ve used the money for fixing up the house, for house-keeping and food. I got a phone too,” she said with a broad smile and a laugh. The women are now recycling plastic bottles by cutting them into circlets around which they weave broader bracelets. They sell their products to ecotourists visiting the area and hope to sell more items to stores in the cities.

"Recently, the weavers in Banggi got a contract to weave 1200 napkin rings for the Shangri-la Tanjung Aru resort in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah’s capitol city. The resort is also interested in selling other pandanus products such as placemats and coasters in its shops."

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