Our two handicraft volunteers Anni Ansmann and Janika Prinstmann have just completed their placement here at TAFIAS as part of the ANDAKIDZ project co-funded by the Estonian Government.
They both did a great job!
As a result of their efforts we now have a solid team of well trained locals who can make jewellery, bags and the already famous CocoBra.
When volunteers are nearing the end of their time we like to ask them three questions:
What have you been doing?
What has been/was the effect locally?
How have you or will you benefit from the experience?
Janika Printsmann answered:
Several times I’ve been asked – what have you learned while being here? what have you gained?
At first I would say I don’t know, I don’t want to bother my head with it. Let me just be here in my own little bubble with myself. But really? Actually I’ve been afraid of new things and situations and fighting with it. What will I do, when I get back home and I don’t have job? I have met many new and wonderful friends and everything’s changing. I have learned patience, rushing doesn’t take you anywhere and learned to control my emotions (it doesn’t always work). Knowing that I can’t change other people, only they can do it. It’s an old truth, but still actual every now and
then. Never say never, I will never be a teacher, but yet here I am teaching and guiding 😀
What have been the biggest challenges working here and how can I help the local community?
Foremost leaving the comfort zone and understanding that local opportunities are limited. All the necessary things have to be found here and with local opportunities, not like in Estonia. Here you don’t have that variety of goods and the chance to go to the store and buy everything you need. Everything takes more time than we’re used to. The only motivation is money and food, because you can’t cope any other way. Changing people’s way of thinking and showing other possibilities, that the things you do now can help you and bring the food to the table also in the Future such as the opportunity to teach your daughter handicraft and to widen their horizon. Although our Talisay community is run by an incredible lady, Ana Mainit, even she was impressed, when I started to make different things from the coconut shells that were just lying around the house. She was surprised – is really money lying around the house like that?
When working together with locals, you need to give them freedom and make them think. You’ll have to be on the same level with your students, you’ll have to respect their culture and traditions. Only then will they embrace you and be like sponges, who absorb the knowledge. A good example is man who saw me messing with a coconut shell and then started to experiment with the shells and his bigger machine. And eventually he made some cool stuff to make earrings from – hearts, flip-flops, seashells etc. Or a girl, who saw a tie I made and a bit later made a copy of it herself. Old ladies crocheting are as vivid as the young. They just look at the crochet hat and start making them. There are many opportunities for recycling and natural handcraft.
I think that my contribution to the local community is actually quite big. In the sense that it changes their way of thinking and broadens their mind. To see the chances that can actually be made in limited, having only the skills to do it. Also to know and hand on those skills to your children and grandchildren. To awaken interest and will to do something. Something for yourself…
…to come out from your bubble and move on as a richer person inside.
Anni Ansmann’s answers were:
For the last three months I have been a handicraft teacher in Philippines, as a volunteer. The organisation ANDAKIDZ is a non profit organisation that works in the village of Anda, Bohol together with local organisations. The aim of our project is to create jobs in this area and to teach local people some new skills. Together with one other Estonian volunteer we design and create products, which could be produced from local materials and can be sold to tourists. We have shared our tasks according to our professions – I am dealing with all the works that concern using the sewing machine and Janika helps the ladies create jewellery. ANDKIDZ got a very good sewing machine from Estonia, which we are using now here. The machine is good to sew thick and strong materials together. I am teaching some locals how to use that machine so they could use it for some future jobs. Until now we have had some interesting orders already and we sincerely hope there will be more in the future.
The first and the biggest order was from a local resort. We had to sew many cushion and sunbed covers from artificial leather. That work was pretty hard and there was a lot of work to do, so I think it was a very useful practice for ladies. The result was great and the owner of the resort is very happy with the covers. After that job we started sewing some accessories from empty chicken /pig feed sacks. It was also a very good practice, as sewing the feed sacks is not a very easy lesson. The material is difficult to cut out and to sew. Luckily everything turned out great, now we have some bags ready to wear, sold in one of Anda’s most visited restaurants, Coco Loco. After that lesson we started sewing stuff with some regular fabric. The students know now how to sew pockets, zippers to the fabric, some bags and aprons.
All the students did great job.
The most enthusiastic and skilled student has now become so good, that we decided to teach together with her. We made some patterns together and taught a local group some basic sewing skills. After I’m gone, she can continue teaching and supervising sewing jobs around here. I believe she is ready for it.
What has been the effect locally?
I believe that the active and positive energy coming from us has given a lot of motivation to local people. The unemployment rate is really high in this area and giving the locals a little bit motivation and activities in the community centre might light a bulb in their head also. There might be no jobs around here, but there is a possibility to create some We try to create our products as easily as possible, so people could continue doing them without owning any special equipments. We have given them our acknowledgements about creating the products and they have given us some life wisdom as well. Also we have created a working place with a good atmosphere, where people are coming daily with a good mood and that is very
How will I benefit from this experience?
It is difficult to describe how thankful I am for this opportunity. This has been a great experience! It is not very easy to just stop your life in your home country and quit everything to come and work in totally different country on the other side of the world. Everything is really different here and it needs some time to get used to it. Working together with locals is the best way to get to know some new cultures. I feel like part of their life already and I like that feeling. I also like the feeling when you can give some useful acknowledgements to them, that they could use in future. The people are extremely thankful and generous here.
I will take a huge baggage of experiences home with me. It has not been an easy ride but I’m really glad that i did it! Working in really extreme conditions with very few tools need a lot of nerves and patience. All the problems has to be solved very creatively with not losing your
patience. This is something European people should learn more I have also gathered a lot of inspiration for continuing my work back home. All the life here has changed my view how I see life around me and how I appreciate things I have. I feel that I have completed my mission here and
I have given a lot for helping this community and that feeling is good. The time we had here was quite short, so we had to act and think really fast without making any pointless moves.
I wish everyone the best and I really hope things will get better around here!