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Stitches of Tibet

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TWA recognizes a need to offer vocational training opportunities to young women so that they can become economically self-sufficient. In October of 1995, TWA established a tailoring and handicraft initiative in Dharamsala to provide training to unskilled and economically disadvantaged Tibetan women, many of whom escaped from Tibet where educational and employment opportunities for women are minimal.

The Stitches of Tibet initiative offers women living in exile the goal to become self-reliant and have control over their own lives. The Stitches of Tibet offers 12 to 18 months of tailoring skills training, tuition for learning English language and math, weekly health education workshops, and a small stipend for living expenses.

Items are sold at the Stitches of Tibet shop in Dharamsala which is located on Temple Road, McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala and operates from Tuesday to Saturday, 9:00am to 5:00pm. The shop offers a variety of traditional and modern Tibetan garments and handicrafts that have been produced during the training period. Proceeds from sales are put back into the program for operating expenses and continuation of the program.

The Stitches of Tibet is a completely self-sustaining project. Ten Tibetan women per year are accepted into the program, eight of the positions being reserved for new arrivals from Tibet. The fourth Stitches of Tibet class will graduate in October 2000. The fifth class is scheduled to begin shortly thereafter.

The Stitches of Tibet program has proven to be very successful. It is well accepted and supported by the community and demand to enroll in the class is high. Besides Dharamsala, there are other TWA branches in India which have established successful tailoring programs in Hunsur, Bylakuppe (South India) and Ladakh.