We have been invited into the home of Mi ErMei (38) and are received with warm smiles even though it is cold in the apartment. She belongs to the Tujia ethnic group, and has recently completed a brocading course for women. This training course is part of the International Biogas Project that NMS runs in YONGSHUN, located in Hunan Province in China. The course taught her how to make traditional Tujua brocade pictures and
rugs. This course
gives life to an old tradition and simultaneously provides much needed income
for Mi ErMei and the other women who are taking part in this course.
Mi ErMei’s husband died earlier this year. Although she is smiling, her face is marked by sorrow. The time is approaching nine o'clock at night and it is dark outside. However, her daughter, Peng Shuyi (12) is still at school where she has evening lessons. Evening lessons entails that she needs to eat at the school cafeteria, which means an additional expense. Mi ErMei knows exactly how much dinner at the cafeteria costs and although the cafeteria is very cheap, it has an impact on her tight budget. A few months ago, she did not know how she would cope financially after her husband's death. How would she be able to pay for her daughter’s schooling? The vegetables from their farm alone are not sufficient to even give the kids enough food. With the loom and her newfound skills, she is upbeat about the future. Now she can do brocade when it suits her and the rugs she makes provides a very welcome additional income.
Mi ErMei throws a ball on the cement floor of the apartment, and Peng ShuSan runs to catch it. The small apartment is sparsely decorated and there are two cheap broken suitcases and some broken toys next to the chair I'm sitting on. As I look around, I think to myself that they would get more space if they threw away these things. Then it strikes me that in Europe we often think that the poor have nothing. This is partly true - they often have very little. However, poor people in this community are also too poor to be able to throw away things that are broken or that they do not need at the moment. Being able to buy something later is a privilege of the rich. But that is obviously not what Mi ErMei is concerned about today. Right now she is very grateful because she has the loom that she has received from NMS. It helps her to be able to buy meat for her children almost every week.
Do you have something to be thankful for? Perhaps the amount of freedom you have? Or are you thankful for your safety or health? Do you want to contribute to give more freedom and security to poor women who, like Mi ErMei, who want to earn a living in a dignified way without having to worry unnecessarily about tomorrow?
This brocading course for women is part of the International Biogas project that provides biogas to poor farmers in China and Madagascar. Women have more disposable time once they have a biogas digester on their farm because they no longer need to collect wood etc. For this reason, this project started several courses in China and Madagascar which gives women an opportunity to use their newfound leisure time in a way that can improve their life and family income. This course is a brocading course for women and Mi ErMei is one of the participants. Do you want to support the International Biogas project and help to change the lives of women like Mi ErMei?
Give a donation to this project here.