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Southern Shuneh residents turn kimonos into business opportunities

By Muath Freij - Jan 31,2013 - Last updated at Jan 31,2013

AMMAN — After finishing a three-year dressmaking course, Manal Odeh is planning to start her own business and share the tools of the trade with her friends and relatives.

“When I first began the course, I thought that I would never be able to make a dress. Today, I can make whatever I want and I can train others as well,” the 26-year-old said.

Odeh is one of 10 Southern Shuneh residents who benefited from a training course held by the Japanese organisation Reborn Kyoto and funded by the Japanese foreign ministry.

The graduates are now qualified to train others in future courses, according to the organisers.

Reborn Kyoto is a nonprofit organisation working to nurture the economic independence of young and old women all over the world through the instruction in dressmaking and textile technology using donated Japanese kimonos.

On Thursday, Reborn Kyoto organised a fashion show to showcase the dresses made by participants in the course.

Yuko Iimura, the project manager, said that Jordan is among several countries that benefited from the organisation’s programme.

“We [have] projects all over the world, including Yemen, Vietnam and Jordan,” she told The Jordan Times in an interview during the fashion show.

She noted that the organisation, established in 1979, chose Southern Shuneh District because it is one of the poorest areas in the Kingdom.

Reborn Kyoto President Masayo Kodama said women are usually the most affected in difficult economic times, so this programme targets them in particular.

Iimura noted that after the end of the programme, dresses made by the trainees will be sold at local shops.

“We are going to send their work to stores in Amman,” she added.

Iimura said that trainees used the Japanese kimono material, which is 100 per cent silk, and difficult to sew.

“If the ladies can make dresses using kimono material, then they can sew any material,” the project manager said.

Suad Younes, a mother of seven and grandmother of four, is now training others after completing her course through Reborn Kyoto.

She noted that trainers have a lot of ideas to apply, but there is a lack of support.

“Trainers want to create several designs and dresses, but there is a lack of promotion. We hope that our work can be promoted in the future,” she said.

The programme also entailed training women on making handicrafts, which were sold on the sidelines of Thursday’s fashion show.

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