Karen Women’s Centre and Vocational Training

May 1, 2007

Teams who had been working in refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border for many years and successfully developed capacity inside the camps, were now facing a new challenge created by mass resettlement as trained people moved away. At the same time, human rights atrocities continued inside Karen State Burma.

In order to address this challenge a Contact Centre was established in Ho Kay village in 2001 to improve communication with the 4 northern districts, provide access to trainings, offer shelter and provide a venue for the women in those districts to hold meetings. The availability of the centre meant women did not endanger themselves by crossing the border to attend meetings in the camp or in towns.

The women in these areas were encouraged that activities were expanding inside Karen State. Through the training on offer the women felt more empowered to organize themselves in their daily life and have more confidence to work in their community and support their people.

This funding provided training in sewing, tailoring, weaving, as well as safe accommodation for unaccompanied girls, safe transport of goods and assistance to those seeking medical treatment.


The project had a total of 28 participants for the vocational training including both sewing and weaving trainings.

The loom training had 10 graduates, all completing a 6 months training period before they returned to their districts and helped with loom weaving and production of clothes etc. Some also started working in the community office, mostly due to the lack of weaving orders in an unstable period, but all the women found work and went on to contribute to the community. Within a year they had produced 280 sarongs and 20 blankets.

18 graduates also completed sewing training in the 6 months training period. As with the weaving participants, the sewing graduates returned to their current homes to work on production of clothes etc. but also helped others between orders. One of the women was supported by her family to buy a sewing machine and started her own business. It provided a stable income for her and her family.