On Friday, November 8, the tradeswomen of North America and the women of Archana said goodbye after a week of discussions, site visits, media events, meetings with government and academic dignitaries and getting to know each other. More on the activities and final day below but first a personal story from Electrician Denise Duavin.
Two stories: Two Women Masons
By Denise Dauvin, Industrial Electrician, British Columbia
I heard something today that touched my heart.
We were having a roundtable meeting about the challenges women face in non-traditional trades. One of the women, who’s name is Money, had just traveled 4 hours to come to the meeting. She told us her story. She had grown up in the very poorest of families and her family put her out to work cleaning by age 5. She had no schooling, she could not read or write. She was married off at a very young age and had two children. It was then that her husband abandoned the family. She was desperate when she met Thresiamma Mathew, founder of Archana Women’s Centre. Money was in one of the first groups of women who were trained at the Centre to become Masons.
She not only learned to be a Mason, but learned how to read and write. She continued learning and first got a scooter license and then a car license. She has gone on to raise her children and has been self-employed as a Mason for over 23 years.
This echoed to me some events in my life. I was 17 when I got pregnant and had two children. I ended up a single mother after a very terrible marriage. I felt powerless, and needed a way to earn money and take care of my children. It was then that I entered the trades, where you get paid as you learn. Trades was the answer for both Money and I enabling us to raise our children and become strong, skilled trades people. We are lucky in North America to have government programs that help single parents to improve their education. Thank goodness the women of Kerala, India have the Archana Women’s Centre.
The visit was big news!
Click here to see the women of Archana and the Building Bridges delegates meeting together and sharing tools at the Centre in a video news report in the Malayalam language. At 1.03 in the broadcast, Noreen Buckley, San Francisco Electrician explains the purpose of the North American tradeswomen’s trip to Kerala.
On to Kochin and a weekend with the members and leaders of KKNTC, the local affiliate of Builders and Woodworkers International (BWI)